OPINION: NSW Business Chamber Northern Rivers regional manager Jane Laverty.
OPINION: NSW Business Chamber Northern Rivers regional manager Jane Laverty. CLAYTON LLOYD

OPINION: Morrison must make regional Australia a key focus

AS THE dust settles and Ministers are put into place, businesses are now asking how the Prime Minister and his team will implement their plan for growth and jobs in this term of government.

It's critical that government outline a long-term vision for Australia.

Their plan for growth and how it intends to ensure a diverse, competitive and balanced economy.

We hear some of the talk coming out of the large capital cities - it's all about congestion, how unaffordable housing is, how hard it is to get kids into school or even find some greenspace for them to play in.

These are the reasons why some want to cut back immigration or put limits on housing investment.

If these are the policy calls now, what's it going to be like in a few decades?

It doesn't have to be this way.

Across regional NSW our businesses are crying out for skilled migrants to fill gaps, they are crying out for transport infrastructure and greater connectivity - for digital infrastructure that is world class.

So no one can talk sensibly about a long-term plan for Australia that doesn't involve significant investment and the accelerated economic development of regional areas.

A good place to start would be some of the recommendations made by a parliamentary committee on regional development and decentralisation - the aptly titled "Regions at the Ready: Investing in Australia's Future”, from the Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation in June 2018.

That committee suggested the government increase investment in infrastructure and connectivity, it suggested regional development plans be coordinated and that regional universities get better support. These are all great ideas.

The government agreed with many of these proposals, so now it's time to put them into action.

They should start by kicking off a comprehensive policy and planning process.

Oversight could be provided by a joint parliamentary committee.

The NSW Business Chamber is a strong believer in the potential of regional areas like the Northern Rivers and the Northern Rivers has never been more ready to step up and live up to its capability.

So we look forward to working with the Morrison government to help businesses in our region to grow, employ and invest - for our regional communities to reach their potential.