Regional Development Australia reforms to boost regional growth

Kellon Beard.
Kellon Beard.

The NSW Business Chamber says key reforms to the way Regional Development Australia operates will ensure the focus of RDA’s is on growing regional economies.

Regional manager for Mid North Coast NSW Business Chamber Kellon Beard says RDA’s key strengths in developing networks and facilitating business activity were often ignored.

“Too much effort was placed on the development of regional plans which duplicate the activities performed by state and local government bodies,” Mr Beard said.

“The federal government’s key reforms to RDA’s will help support new investment and job opportunities in regional NSW.

“The NSW Business Chamber has long argued that both the form and function of Regional Development Australia is ill equipped to meet the needs of regional NSW.

“When we’ve spoken to our members, there’s always been broad support for a regional body to fill the “representative gap” between local, state and federal government,” Mr Beard said.

“Members have, however, consistently identified that under its current structure, Regional Development Australia just wasn’t the right fit to make this happen.”

Whilst the current RDA on the Mid North Coast and its staff, have done really good work over the past few years, this change will make them even more effective.

Kellon Beard

Mr Beard said the changes will see RDA’s proactively seeking opportunities for regional jobs and investment and measured against clear performance standards will definitely help in ensuring the focus of RDA’s are on growing regional economies.

“The introduction of a more rigorous, merit-based appointment process for RDA Chairs and Committee members will also help ensure that RDA’s have the skills available to help support and drive their communities forward.

“The creation of a new Director of Regional Development for each RDA will also aid in concentrating efforts in growing regions whether it be through the development of education and skills, technology, access to markets or new collaborative partnerships.

“Whilst the current RDA on the Mid North Coast and its staff, have done really good work over the past few years, this change will make them even more effective.

“With funding for RDA committees confirmed to 2020, the business communities across the Mid North Coast will be looking to engage with the RDA closely to help grow opportunities for new investment and importantly jobs in our region,” Mr Beard said.