It is a pleasure to introduce the Sustainable Economic Growth for the Regional Australia (SEGRA) Conference 2012.
This forum provides a great platform for leading thinkers on regional issues to share their expertise, ideas and information and for us to discuss and expand on these amongst this unique network.
I encourage you to attend the conference to engage in discussions and relate them back in respects to your region.
This year’s focus resonates strongly with me: ensuring regions leverage maximum benefits from regional growth.
The Australian Government’s commitment to regional Australia is strong and longstanding.
Stronger regions means a stronger nation, and a more resilient, diversified and sustainable regional global economy.
Our government is determined to embed regionalism into the way Australia is governed. That is why we established the 55 strong Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees on place-based solutions to regional priorities and, importantly on how best to grow regional economies.
Regionalism’s time has come. It is vital as it contributes to the strength of the nation. The OECD last year stated that ‘strong regions are the building blocks for strong countries’.
Our government has strengthened the 55 RDA committees, increasing their on-the-ground approaches, working with them on their regional plans and giving them the skills and expertise to work with all three tiers of government to build a sustainable framework for embedding regionalism.
Regionalism goes hand in hand with localism. Localism is critical because it achieves the outcomes needed for the regions.
Localism draws on local knowledge and it requires leadership with a vision to drive ideas. It determines the ‘what’; the challenge for regions is to identify what their strengths are and what local projects will build on these.
Partnerships determine the ‘how’; how to work with all levels of government, the private sector and community organisations to make it happen. I firmly believe that partnerships are effective in making it happen.
Partnership approaches to regional development cannot be demonstrated more clearly than through the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF). The Australian Government’s commitment worth almost $1 billion has so far seen $350 million committed in the first two RDAF rounds leverage $1.2 billion in total project investment.
We are leveraging the investment to maximise the benefits for regional growth through RDAF.
I am determined to ensure that all of the patches in our patchwork economy continue to contribute to and share the benefits of growth. Again, partnerships are the key and we have developed place-based approaches in Tasmania and the Northern Queensland, and recently signed a MoU for the Upper Spencer Gulf Alliance with governments at all levels, RDAs, and industry to support this region’s economic transition.
Again I urge you to attend the conference and to think about your regional plan, your RDA, your local government organisations, your key partnerships and importantly, I call on you to take up your local role to drive your region’s vision.
Much has been done to lay the foundations for success, but there is much more to be done.
Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government
Minister for the Arts