THIS past week we saw another indication of the growing importance of regional cities when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Federal Minister for Cities Paul Fletcher joined the Victorian government to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to do a Geelong city deal.
Geelong joins two other Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) members, Launceston and Townsville, to be nominated for a city deal.
In the deals that have been signed there has been a commitment to bring significant investment from both state and federal governments and also the private sector to the city and wider region.
It is disappointing however to see that smaller cities like Orange are currently ineligible for a city deals due to not meeting an arbitrary population threshold.
It is the position of RCA, an organisation I chair, that regional cities like Orange are increasingly important to not only national prosperity but also the region it serves.
Orange is an important regional centre, offering alternatives for business and families to escape the crushing congestion and increasingly un-affordable lifestyles of big cities like Melbourne.
Orange also serves as a fundamental regional hub, providing essential economic and life-saving services and resources not only for people living in the city itself, but also for those living in the surrounding towns.
All evidence points to the fact that Orange is worthy of this investment, as it performs well against Melbourne on a range of indicators.
The median price for a home in Orange is about $370,000 verses more than $660,000 in Melbourne, with an unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent in Orange and 6.21 per cent in Melbourne.
The rates of congestion are also significantly lower in Orange, with employment easily accessible mere minutes from home – something which rarely happens for those living in Melbourne.
Through my role on the Australian Government’s Smart Cities Reference Group I will continue to advocate for the government to expand their focus to include smaller regional cities in their investment plans – making sure cities like Orange remain the live-able, affordable and invest-able alternative.
Shane Van Styn, Chair of Regional Capitals Australia
- Regional Capitals Australia is a national alliance of local government councils across the nation representing Australia’s regional cities.