Regional capitals the secret to Australia’s future, report
REGIONAL centres such as the Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Gold Coast-Tweed Heads are growing at faster rates than Sydney and Melbourne, a new government report has revealed.
The State of Australian Cities 2014-2015 report found regional capitals were at the forefront of easing overpopulation in metropolitan cities.
Regional Capitals Australia has called for increased investment outside capitals to attract more people and ease the $50.31 billion national traffic congestion bill predicted for 2031.
"Our national leaders must take a good look at the potential that sits outside the urban growth boundaries of our capital cities and commit to sustainably growing our regional capitals," RCA chairwoman and Mackay Regional Council Mayor Deirdre Comerford said.
Toowoomba was one of the six slowest-growing major cities in the country with less than 1% growth from 2010 to 2014, alongside Launceston, Hobart, Wollongong, Adelaide and Newcastle.
The report said Mackay was "poised to join the ranks of Australia's major cities by the next Census".
Despite being having the most rapidly increasing populations over the past decade, the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast-Tweed Heads experienced reduced growth rates from 2010 to 2014.
This was "likely due to fewer jobs resulting from the global financial crisis" and a decline in overseas migration from a peak in 2008, the report stated.
Cr Comerford said the study revealed concerning economic implications of an aging population and lower education and employment levels in regional areas.
"This report clearly states that there is 'a large pool of underutilised human capital' in our cities, which must be garnered to shift the level of productivity in Australia more broadly," she said.
Gold Coast-Tweed heads
Australia has added 400,000 people since 2013 to build a total population of more than 23.6 million people
More than 75% of Australians live in the country's 20 largest cities and more than 60% live in the five largest cities
Melbourne has seen the greatest growth in absolute terms over the past decade, adding 750,000 people or more than 200 people per day
Sunshine Coast, Wollongong, Geelong, Launceston, Newcastle-Maitland, Bendigo and Gold Coast-Tweed Heads have the highest proportion of their population over 65 years of age