The Regional Australia Institute began in late 2011 with an $8.5-million federal grant and has since picked up state and territory funding to continue its research and to advocate on behalf of regional Australia.
Its latest release, this week's Regional Population Growth - Are We Ready? The economics of alternative Australian settlement patterns, is described as the culmination of a series of reports on regional population trends.
Based on university research, according to the report if present trends continue, Sydney and Melbourne will approach "global megacity status" by mid-century, while regional areas will experience "only modest levels of growth".
On a "business as usual" scenario, Sydney is expected to grow from 4.7 million people in 2016 to 9.2 million in 2056. That's a virtual doubling of the population in 40 years.
Noting that workers in regional areas earn about as much as their outer-suburban counterparts but with cheaper housing and a shorter commute, the report says planners and politicians have paid too little attention to the potential benefits of a "more widely distributed" population pattern.
Historically, decentralisation has had limited success in Australia, but unless we can encourage greater growth in the regions, the future could be even more of a case of "Sydney and the bush" than it is today.
It's not hard for Orange residents to see the benefits that come from decentralisation. Orange is home to the NSW Department of Primary Industries and that's proved a boon for the the city not only in terms of employment opportunities but also economic benefit for the region.
Early this year the long-awaited government farm bank, the Regional Investment Corporation, finally opened in Orange, bringing with it a major boost to the local economy.
When the then federal agriculture and water resources minister David Littleproud opened the national headquarters he said many of the 32 staff had relocated to Orange from around Australia.
At the time Mr Littleproud said the government would soon be announcing another decentralisation program because there was evidence people wanted to live and work in regional areas.
There's no denying people see living in regional areas such as Orange as extremely desirable however if there are no jobs here then it becomes simply not viable.
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