List of Recommendations

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the Federal Government increase its investment in building enabling infrastructure to improve connectivity, key services and amenity through coordinated regional plans.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that each Regional Development Australia (RDA) Committee develop a coordinated regional strategic plan.
Developed in consultation with State and Territory governments, these regional strategic plans will identify a pipeline of infrastructure projects and priorities. It is expected that the regional strategic plans will identify potential Regional City Deals.
The regional strategic plans should be published, and will act as the evidence base for catalytic federal investment that will trigger further state, local and private investment.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that the Federal Government’s City Deals program should be extended to provide development and opportunity to cities, towns and regional communities. Each new deal is to be approved by Cabinet, and evaluated after five years. The evaluation is to include an assessment of the social, economic and environmental outcomes for the region.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends that the Federal Government strengthen the role of the Regional Development Australia (RDA) program. This includes, but is not limited to:
lead cross government collaboration and build strong bipartisan partnerships between the RDA Committee and key stakeholders in the region;
where appropriate, redistributing the RDA network to map across state and territory boundaries to develop practical and effective economic zones;
giving RDA Committees specific responsibility for attracting catalytic investment from state and federal governments that are likely to lead to further regional investment;
giving RDA Committees shared responsibility for advocating and coordinating Regional City Deals at the local level;
increasing the resourcing of RDAs to fulfil their role and functions; and
develop regional strategic plans to drive social, economic and environmental outcomes for the region. It is expected the strategic plans will be flexible and continually updated to reflect changing circumstances.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that every Federal Government agency should assess the possibility for relocation whenever appropriate, but always when one of the following occurs:
a new unit, agency or organisation is created;
an organisation is merged or reorganised; or
a significant property break occurs such as the termination of a lease.

Recommendation 6

The Committee recommends that:
decisions as to whether to decentralise an agency should be part of a broader strategy for regional development; and
the objectives and reasons for any decentralisation decision are clearly stated and publically available.

Recommendation 7

The Committee recommends that decisions on a gaining location for a Federal Government agency should include assessment of the following factors:
employee career opportunities;
amenity of the gaining location;
opportunity for family employment;
existing workforce capacity in the proposed location;
physical and digital connectivity of the gaining location;
access to higher education opportunities and opportunities for local workforce development; and
risks associated with overloading existing services.

Recommendation 8

After a decision to decentralise an agency has been made, the Committee recommends that the process of relocation includes:
strategies for communicating the relocation process to staff;
consideration of short-term incentives to relocated staff;
support for flexible working arrangements including teleworking; and
close collaboration with the local organisations of the gaining area.

Recommendation 9

The Committee recommends that the Federal Government does not apply any limits on numbers of Senior Executive Service staff in agencies when those Senior Executive Service positions are located in regional areas.
The benefits of decentralisation for policy design and program implementation is to provide flexibility and understanding at a regional level. This requires decision makers to be located, as much as possible, close to those impacted by their decisions while still ensuring that the regulating agency maintains its independence and impartiality.

Recommendation 10

The Committee recommends that every decentralised agency conduct an evaluation of the decentralisation at one year, five year and ten year points; and publish the results of that evaluation.

Recommendation 11

The Committee recommends that the Federal Government strengthen the role of, and better support, regional universities as pivotal institutions for social and economic development in regional areas.

Recommendation 12

The Committee recommends that the Federal Government state its regional development policy through a comprehensive Regional Australia White Paper, following a Green Paper public consultation process.
The Green Paper process should include, but not be limited to the following issues:
consider regional Australia’s population needs as part of the broader national context. This includes urbanisation, ageing, depleting populations in smaller towns, and migration;
the use of the skilled migration program to support regional development;
improving education and training of young people – in particular Year 12 completion rates – in regional areas;
the development of a national regional higher education strategy;
the need for access to information technology, strong and reliable communication, specifically mobile phone and NBN;
the need for strong and reliable transport infrastructure to support passenger and freight requirements;
the role of amenity and social infrastructure, specifically the cultivation of social, cultural and community capital in supporting regional development;
incentives and strategies to improve private sector investment in regional areas; and
the role and funding of local governments to better support regional areas.

Recommendation 13

The Committee recommends that the Federal Government establish a Joint Standing Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation. The role of the Committee will include but not be limited to:
monitor and report on the strengthened Regional Development Australia program including the revised role of the Regional Development Committees;
monitor and report on the implementation of the Regional City Deals program;
examine incentives and strategies to improve private sector investment in regional areas; and
review existing decentralisation of both public and private sector entities and identify further potential opportunities.

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