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Powerful new Alliance champions regional Australia

21 March 2023

More than 30 CEOs from the most influential peak bodies in the country have today joined forces in Canberra, for the historic launch of the National Alliance for Regionalisation.

Established by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), CEO Liz Ritchie says this new Alliance is the first of its kind in this country, spanning business, health, education, infrastructure and environment. It aims to better position the regions to reach their potential.

“It’s no secret regional kids are still behind their metro-counterparts at school. Employers are struggling to get staff – yet migration levels are significantly lower in regions. Towns are crying out for doctors, but kids in the country are less likely to finish high school,” Liz Ritchie said.

“Despite these challenges, regional Australia remains the engine room of our national economy – but it’s not firing on all cylinders.

“In September, the RAI launched the Regionalisation Ambition 2032 – a 10-year framework to rebalance the nation. The Alliance will advance the targets within the Ambition and advocate for the policy priorities needed to create a fairer, more prosperous, more balanced regional Australia.

“Today’s launch marks a significant milestone for the 9 million people living in our regions. This powerful cohort of leading peak bodies and for-purpose organisation will work to help bring the RAI’s Regionalisation Ambition 2032 to life,” Liz Ritchie said.

“By viewing these critical issues through the collective lens of the Alliance, we will progress solutions that have hampered growth in regional Australia for decades.

"The Alliance will provide knowledge sharing and national leadership to ensure the 20 targets and aspirations set out in the Ambition remain relevant and central to decision-making for regional Australia over the next decade.

“It will adopt a system-thinking approach in viewing regional development within this country, working together to see more than 11 million people living prosperously in regional Australia by 2032.

“While each organisation has its individual policy priorities, it will work collectively to progress issues of commonality – such as regional housing, worker shortages, regional education, and migration,” Liz Ritchie said.

Targets within the Regionalisation Ambition 2032 include:

  • Increasing regional Australia’s contribution to national output, boosting Australia’s GDP by an additional $13.8 billion by 2032;
  • Reducing the recruitment difficulty rate in regional Australia to below 40%;
  • Halving the population classified as living in a regional childcare desert (to below 2 million);
  • Increasing rental vacancy rates in regional areas to above 3%; and ensure building approvals keep pace with population growth; and
  • Increasing the percentage of students in regional Australia who achieve at or above the minimum standard NAPLAN testing, equal to metropolitan students, across each year level.

“After more than 11 years of research, we know you can’t solve the jobs crisis without addressing housing, the skills deficit without improving education standards and healthcare
in regions can’t be improved without focussing on digital connectivity. All these issues are interlinked, complex and equally important.

Mike Mrdak AO was today announced as the Chair of the National Alliance for Regionalisation, the former Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts, and Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

“I am delighted Mr Mrdak has accepted the position of Chair and will lead the Alliance. His experience in regional development in the country is second to none, and we welcome him to the position,” Liz Ritchie said.

Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories Kristy McBain will deliver an opening address to the Alliance members.

“We thank Minister McBain and the Albanese Government for their continued support for regional Australia. The Alliance will seek to continue this engagement with the Government to further the actions and priorities that will contribute to the Ambition's targets,” Ms Ritchie said.

“Australia is one of the most urbanised nations in the world, yet we know that urbanisation and mega-cities are not the right trajectory for our nation – our modelling tells us that a more balanced nation is better for the productivity and liveability of not just regional communities, but the nation as a whole,” Liz Ritchie said.

“Not only is regionalisation a sound strategy for strengthening Australia’s economy, it’s a broader strategy for shaping a stronger future for our country’s wellbeing and living standards, our resilience to economic shocks and natural disasters, and our capacity to manage a changing demographic.

“We have set our ambition to Rebalance the Nation, and to accomplish this requires all of Australia – government, industry and community – to work collaboratively. Today, we have taken a significant step forward in achieving that.

“Planning for a stronger Australia means planning for a prosperous, inclusive and resilient regional Australia and I wish to thank all organisations involved today for taking a seat at this historic table,” Liz Ritchie concluded.

The founding members of the National Alliance for Regionalisation include:

  • Australian Communications
  • Consumer Action Network
  • Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute
  • Australian Industry Group
  • Australian Local Government Association
  • Australian Medical Association
  • Australian Regional Tourism
  • Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth
  • Australian Rural Leadership Foundation
  • Business Council of Australia
  • Council of Small Business Organisations Australia
  • Country Education Partnership
  • Engineers Australia
  • Insurance Council of Australia
  • Master Builders Australia
  • Migration Institute of Australia
  • Minerals Council of Australia
  • National Catholic Education Commission
  • National Farmers' Federation
  • National Rural Health Alliance
  • National Rural Women's Coalition
  • Planning Institute of Australia
  • Real Estate Institute of Australia
  • Regional Arts Australia
  • Regional Australia Institute
  • Regional Aviation Association of Australia
  • Regional Capitals Australia
  • Regional Universites Network
  • Royal Far West
  • Royal Flying Doctor Service
  • Rural Councils Victoria
  • Rural Doctors Association of Australia
  • Welcoming Australia

A media conference will be held in the Senate Courtyard following the conclusion of the inaugural meeting at 9am Tuesday 21 March.

For further information about the National Alliance for Regionlisation, go to The Regionalisation Ambition 2032 was launched at the RAI Summit in Canberra in September 2022.

For media enquiries contact:
Amanda Barwick
Ph: 0429 142 232
E: [email protected]