21 September 2022

Insight from: Robbie Sefton

I had the pleasure of attending the Regional Australia Institute’s (RAI) Regions Rising National Summit in Canberra last week, which this year focused its attention on launching Regionalisation Ambition 2032 – a Framework to Rebalance the Nation.

An enormous goal, with big ideas, but entirely what is needed for our country post-COVID-19 and as we look to a future in an increasingly competitive global environment.

The RAI says it became clear in the past decade that strengthening the nation’s regions was the key to a brighter and more productive future for the whole of Australia, and that the rapid growth of our biggest cities is in no way helping to build our prosperity.

The RAI’s goal is to have 11 million living in the regions by 2032 – according to the ABS, there are about seven million now.

So, this is no small goal – it’s bold, it’s lofty, and it pushes the envelope.

And that’s what’s so exciting about it.

That said though, “rebalancing the nation” is obviously far easier to say than actually do, a fact readily acknowledged by the RAI which says it will have to have every corner of the nation engaged in the process, every industry, every employer, every bright and innovative mind we have.

At the RAI National Summit last week, numerous speakers spoke on these different issues, highlighting ideas, opportunities, and key objectives with the potential to pave the way towards this ambitious 2032 goal.

There were two presentations that really resonated with me, and showed just how achievable a redistribution of Australia’s population actually is.

Matthew Pryor, a partner in Agthentic Group, believes agricultural innovation is key to achieving the ambitions of the Rebalance the Nation framework as well as the recent National Jobs Summit.

Matthew said, “doubling down” on agri-food innovation made sense because of the big investments already made through our national research and RDC ecosystem, while emphasising the nation already had the runs on the board when it came to “climate-adaptive agriculture”, and “the whole world needs our expertise, products and services to meet the challenges of the coming decades”.

David Thodey, chairman of international companies Tyro and Xero, and the former chair of the CSIRO, spoke on connectivity and its importance in encouraging a greater population spread in the regions.

More specifically, he highlighted two key themes: digitisation and the “redefinition of work”.

David, like so many, believes the pandemic has forced a shift in the way we view our work lives and showed us it’s possible to work differently while still being focused and productive.

This obviously plays into the hands of the regions as more people realise, they don’t necessarily need to work from an office all the time and may not need to be located in a city to do their job.

To work efficiently though from a more remote location, connectivity must be reliable, fast and cost-effective, and David believes the emergence of satellite capabilities is proving its worth now and will only get better in the future.

To read this article in The Land, go to Following a pathway to prosperity via rural and regional Australia | The Land | NSW

David Thodey spoke at the Regional Australia Institute’s Regions Rising National Summit in Canberra recently. Photo: Supplied