Landmark report highlights Central and Western Queensland’s strengths and future opportunities for growth and investment

17 March, 2022

RDA Central and Western Queensland has partnered with Infrastructure Australia to develop the Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps report, which highlights opportunities in Central and Western Queensland to support the regionalisation trend that took hold during the pandemic and is reshaping our region.

The Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps report provides a lens to highlight the opportunities in our regions and prioritise investment in Regional Australia.

In developing this report, Infrastructure Australia partnered with 48 Regional Development Australia committees to conduct extensive consultation on community views.

This was supported by engagement with key regional stakeholders, including businesses, peak bodies and industry groups, to help create a picture of each area’s diverse assets, growth industries and infrastructure requirements.

With the debut of the Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps report, Infrastructure Australia aims to increase the focus on the needs of Regional Australia. Through building an evidence base of mutually acknowledged needs, as well as identifying the assets available to be leveraged by industry and the community, working alongside government, to provide solutions.

Consultation found that stakeholders in Central and Western Queensland region consider water, transport, and telecommunications to be the most significant infrastructure gaps.

The report found that while agricultural and mining industries have become more sustainable in response to climate change, water security and extreme weather events that affect the region remain long-term challenges. As a result, the region has also placed a greater focus on the role of renewable energy and green manufacturing opportunities in transitioning to a low carbon economy. In addition to capitalising on its renewable energy potential and hydrogen opportunities, the region is looking to retain existing agribusiness and mining, as well as leverage its port to improve freight transport and grow exports. The region also wants to see investment in its communities and improvements in digital connectivity, social infrastructure and services to attract and retain a skilled and diverse population.

Infrastructure Australia Chief of Policy & Research Peter Colacino said: “Infrastructure Australia’s 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit identified the challenges and opportunities in providing infrastructure and services in Regional Australia. It found that Regional Australia is characterised by limited choice of infrastructure and associated services, with thin markets limiting the ability for service providers to participate.

“While Australia’s regions are each unique, they share many strengths. This report draws out of those strengths as the basis for communities to define their own identify as well as supporting increased collaboration and knowledge sharing between communities.

“We encourage all stakeholders to use this evidence base to bring forward solutions to local challenges and seize opportunities for growth, innovation and investment. This evidence base supports planning, and informed decision-making, to ensure we get the solutions right to close these gaps.

“Without further reform and investment, the quality of infrastructure and access to services in our regions will remain behind our Fast-growing Cities, constraining growth. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on regional population growth and changing patterns of trade are compounding these challenges,” Mr Colacino said.

Published alongside an interactive map, the report is a starting point for discussion between all parties to inform further planning, policy and investment solutions. Further consultation is being encouraged, with submissions open until 29 April 2022.

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