Influential leaders from the private sector met virtually last week for the second Regional Australia Council 2031 meeting, aimed at supporting the development, investment and prosperity of regional Australia.

NSW Nationals Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education Andrew Gee welcomed the establishment of the RAC2031 initiative, which he said would contribute to and complement the NSW Nationals in the federal government’s commitment to create jobs and boost investment in country Australia.

“I was delighted to address the RAC2031 last week, especially given the group’s strong focus on regionalisation and regional jobs,” Mr Gee said.

“Getting more folks to move to the country has been a priority for the government since 2013.

”We’ve been actively encouraging government agencies to relocate parts of their operations to country Australia. However, there remains significant room to build upon and broaden our decentralisation agenda, particularly when it comes to attracting corporate organisations, sole traders and professionals to the regions.

“It is critical that the government continues to work closely with industry to ensure we are removing some of the impediments that prevent individuals and businesses from relocating to the regions. Especially now, as people across Australia are realising that working from home is possible and are considering a ‘tree-change’.

“The RAC2031 will play an important role in developing and promoting the regional Australia brand, and in establishing strategies and resources that will help corporate organisations and employees easily make the move and call regional Australia home.”

The RAC2031 will also support the important work of the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), an independent think tank focused on better outcomes for regional Australia.

RAI chief executive Liz Ritchie said the megacity outlook in Australia was far from fixed.

“Australians have alternatives and people want choice about where they can build their future,” Ms Ritchie said.

“COVID-19 has changed the way we all live and work. It has fast-tracked the acceptance of working from home or even another location. People can now live where they love, not where they work.

“Our corporate members are already reporting a 20 per cent increase in workforce productivity since COVID-19 began earlier this year – because of changes to workplace flexibility.

“We know there is a great opportunity here and we look forward to working with Minister Gee and his government to develop our National Awareness Campaign to promote working, living and investing in regional Australia.”

The best thing we can do for country Australia is to create the right conditions and policy framework for private companies to make the move and invest in our regions – and we look forward to proactively attracting businesses to country Australia.