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2009 May - hype, hope or just hard work - agriculture in northern Australia

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FPJ0602 Article - The Importance of Northern Australia

Gray, G
Farm Policy Journal, May 2009, Volume 6, Number 2, pp. 1-9 (9 pages)



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Farm Policy Journal - Vol 3 No 3 2006 August - Full Journal

Regional development policy - can it work?
August Quarter 2006, Volume 3, Number 3
Publisher - Australian Farm Institute


Essential Services in Urban and Regional Australia – a Quantitative Comparison

Over recent decades the Australian economy has largely been deregulated, and governments have progressively reduced direct involvement in the provision of a wide range of services to the community. The trend towards reduced direct government involvement in service delivery commenced during the 1980s, and was accelerated by the National Competition Policy agreement of 1994. Over the past two decades, the direct involvement of governments in the provision of services including telecommunications, public transport, some postal services, education, health and medicine, transport infrastructure and a range of health-related services has been substantially reduced.

One unresolved aspect of these changes is the extent to which governments have an obligation to provide a core set of essential services to all taxpayers, irrespective of their place of residence. This was an issue that remained contentious during the sometimes intense political debates over National Competition Policy, and which regularly resurfaces in debates about the quality of telecommunication, health and education services in rural and regional Australia.

A major weakness in the debates about this issue has been the lack of objective data that enables essential service accessibility to be compared between locations, and over time. The research project reported here has addressed this by utilising census and other data to develop objective measures of essential service accessibility.

The intent in developing this data is not to advance arguments that all Australians should have absolutely equal access to all essential services, but rather to provide a mechanism to enable more objective decision-making to occur. This should assist in ensuring that residents of regional and rural areas maintain equitable access to essential services; that governments innovate to find better ways to efficiently provide essential services to all residents; and that governments consider alternative policy measures in the event that essential services cannot be made universally available.

Newly released research has for the first time quantified the extra costs faced by Australia’s non-metropolitan residents in accessing essential Government services, and highlighted the need to find better ways to deliver essential services in regional Australia.

The research, commissioned by the Australian Farm Institute and carried out by the National Institute of Industry and Economic Research (NIEIR), used census and other objective data to calculate the costs faced by all Australian residents in accessing essential services such as doctors, hospitals, schools, TAFE colleges and universities. These costs were then compared between metropolitan, urban and rural residents.

Full Report

November  2009, pp. 1 - 81 (81 pages)
Publisher: Australian Farm Institute
Author: National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR)
ISBN 978-0-9806912-5-2 (Print)
ISBN 978-0-9806912-6-9 (Web)


Growing Regional NSW- Policies to Revitalise the Non-Metropolitan Regions of NSW

Australian governments have adopted a range of initiatives at different times to foster economic development in non-metropolitan regions of the nation. These have included land and water allocation policies, transport and infrastructure
development, regional service subsidisation, decentralisation policies and regional planning initiatives. Despite these policies, large areas of the nation have very low population densities, and the vast bulk of the population is crowded into five mainland capital cities and the metropolitan and coastal areas close to those cities.

The congestion and other stresses created by the rapid growth of metropolitan populations are now becoming a significant issue for state governments, and these problems are likely to be exacerbated in the future as the nation continues to experience relatively strong population growth.

At the same time, low population densities and declining populations in many non-metropolitan regions are creating challenges for governments in the provision of equitable services and facilities in regional areas, and also for non-metropolitan businesses which are having increasing difficulty in securing workers.

It seems logical that, if current Australian population growth rates are to be maintained, the solution to the challenges this will present for both metropolitan and non-metropolitan residents is to find ways to stimulate greater non-metropolitan population growth.
In the past, regional development policies often consisted of measures to entice manufacturers and processors to establish facilities in non-metropolitan areas to provide the employment that would attract new residents. These policies had limited
success, especially as manufacturing has declined in relative importance as a source of employment. However, the rise in prominence of the services economy and the development of modern transport and communication systems, have created new opportunities for economic growth and employment in non-metropolitan areas.

This report proposes a range of policy measures based on international best practice which, if adopted with serious long-term intent by a NSW Government, have the potential to reverse the population drift to metropolitan centres from inland NSW while at the same time enhancing the quality of life in major metropolitan centres.

Please note this Research Report is available in electronic version only.

Full Report
March 2011, 1-52 (52 pages)
Publisher: Australian Farm Institute
Authors: Davison, S, Ryan, T, Goucher, G & Keogh, M
ISBN 978-1-921808-07-4 (Web)


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