REGIONAL cities are calling for federal government investment in their infrastructure and cultural facilities to keep up with the boom in tree-changers.
Data collected by Infrastructure Australia in the first quarter of 2021 showed a 200 per cent increase in net migration to the regions since the pandemic began.
In its pre-budget submission, Regional Capitals Australia said planning for a network of strong regional capitals was now a national imperative.
Regional Capitals Australia chair and Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney said the growth had put pressure on housing, services, and infrastructure, and major investment was necessary to keep up with the surging regional relocation trend.
"Our objective is to make thriving urban centres with all the things - albeit on a smaller scale - that people will find in the major capitals," Cr Moloney said.
The group is calling for better rail and aviation services for its 19 member cities, which include cities such as Tamworth, Alice Springs, Broome and Albury.
Cr Moloney said regional rail projects should be prioritised under the national rail program, while a regional aviation strategy was needed to better connect regional cities to the nation.
Recently appointed Infrastructure Australia chair - and former Tamworth mayor - Col Murray has promised to bring a regional perspective to the new role.
He said connectivity was always at the forefront of discussions around regional investment
"Connectivity is a broad ranging topic, it can cover NBN, mobile services, air service, and road and rail," Mr Murray said.
"There are a few well-known ways to enable regional areas and it's a well accepted fact that private sector investment almost always follows government investment."
Cr Moloney said if the trend of regional relocation was to continue, then the expectation had to meet the reality, so investment in liveability and lifestyle factors was vital.
Regional Capitals Australia wants a greater share of the national arts and culture funding to grow local talent, build quality facilities and attract more shows and exhibitions.
Tamworth mayor Russell Webb said connectivity often attracted people to regional areas and lifestyle factors made them stay.
"We're seeing an influx of people from coastal areas and capital cities - their needs are based around road, rail and air transport, and good internet," Cr Webb said.
"Professionals that move to the city are also thinking about what the sports facilities are like, where their children can get dancing or singing lessons and what lifestyle activities there are for their families.
"People in Sydney are used to heading into the city and seeing a show on any given night. We won't be able to offer the same, but we do need to attract more shows and exhibitions."
Regional Capitals Australia is also pushing for a larger cut of the government's city and job building funds, including the re-establishment of the Regional Growth Fund to allow cities to grow sustainably and meet job demand.
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The story Regional cities need rail, air and arts funding for tree-change boom first appeared on Farm Online.