Preparing for growth in Australia’s cities and regions

Media Release

Investment in urban and regional infrastructure will be better informed with the release of the Progress in Australian Regions—State of Regional Australia 2015 and State of Australian Cities 2014-15 publications today.

The publications provide an understanding of the nation’s overall economic and social wellbeing.

The economic output of our major cities has grown and their national importance remains extremely high, although mining activity in regional Australia has seen the overall percentage contribution by major cities to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dip slightly. [Page 1, State of the Cities 2014-15].

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the release of both reports provides a deeper, more complete picture of the population, employment, economic and transport trends that are occurring across Australia.

“Building the infrastructure Australia needs for the future is best informed by a thorough understanding of the challenges ahead, and these publications will provide vital information for infrastructure planners and communities,” Mr Truss said.

“The Australian Government released both the State of Australian Cities and State of Regional Australia reports concurrently to provide a nationwide view of Australia’s progress.”

Mr Truss said the release of the publications recognised the interrelated nature of cities and their surrounding regions.

“State of Australian Cities 2014-15 is an important tool for all levels of government in understanding where our cities are performing well and where there are opportunities for improvement,” he said.

“While there is no doubt our cities are vitally important for the nation’s prosperity they cannot be considered in isolation from their surrounding regions.

“The Progress in Australia’s Regions—State of Regional Australia 2015 report illustrates the different ways that regions change and takes into account aspects like population growth, economic wellbeing and social progress.

“This report shows that infrastructure continues to support the economies of regional Australian by promoting the efficient flow of people and resources while also providing regional Australians with access to essential services such as education and health.

“In December 2014, my Department released the Progress in Australian Regions—Yearbook 2014 to provide a statistical resource that can help answer the question of how regions are progressing against economic, social, environmental and governance indicators.

“This publication will enable governments, private investors and the community to identify trends that are important for policy development and investment decisions.

“The Government will continue to provide detailed analysis of the challenges facing the nation—inclusive of regional Australia.”

Mr Truss said the Australian Government had been investing widely in urban and regional infrastructure since being elected.

“Our commitment to delivering national prosperity begins with delivering the infrastructure Australia needs, and we have embarked on a nationwide programme of investment to achieve this end,” he said.

“Commitments such as the $8.5 billion upgrade of the Bruce Highway and the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing—the largest commitment to a single regional road project in Queensland’s history—will support the continued movement of goods to domestic and international markets.

“Likewise, the Perth Freight Link will create a new world class freight connection between the Roe Highway and the Fremantle Port, and we are expecting a business case and delivery plan for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project soon.

“The announcement of Badgerys Creek as the preferred site for Western Sydney’s airport is a significant commitment, and we are investing $2.9 billion towards key road upgrades to support the region through the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan.

“The $5 billion Asset Recycling Initiative is helping states build major urban public transport projects, such as the Second Harbour Rail Crossing in Sydney.

“When projects like these are combined with our other initiatives such as the Black Spot, Bridges Renewal and Roads to Recovery programmes—with Roads to Recovery receiving over $1.1 billion in extra funding in the past fortnight—Australia’s infrastructure future looks very promising indeed.”

The publications can be found online at: and

Australian Regional Development Conference (ARDC)
26 – 28 August 2015 | Albury, New South Wales

Conference sponsored by La Trobe University, The Regional Development Company, Vertel, EJ Australia, REMPLAN, .id the population experts and the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc.


A/Prof Leanne Piggott to present on developing an Australia-GCC Fair Trade Agreement

A/Prof Leanne Piggott, Director of Business Education at The University of Sydney Business School will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at the Commercial Club Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Leanne Piggott

Leanne Piggott

Speaker Introduction: Associate Professor Leanne Piggott is a graduate of the University of Oxford and the University of Sydney. She is the Director of Business Education at The University of Sydney Business School where she teaches political risk management and related topics on the global business environment including a course on energy and environmental sustainability.

Leanne’s research interests focus on the nexus between energy, food, and water security, with a particular focus on supply and demand fundamentals, the geopolitics of oil markets, and off-shore investment as a strategy for food security. In relation to the latter topic, she is currently consulting for a Middle East Gulf country in developing their food security strategy and multi-billion dollar food security investment strategy.

Leanne is a regular contributor to the executive education program on national security at the Australian National Security College, speaking mainly on energy security and the challenges of Australia’s liquid fuel insecurity.

Leanne is a member of the Business 20 (B20), which leads engagement with G20 governments on behalf of the international business community. She is also a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She is currently co-editing a volume in DFAT’s series of Documents on Australia on Australian Foreign Policy, on Australia and the Middle East in the post-1950 period.

Abstract Title: Towards an Australia-GCC FTA: strategies and frameworks to facilitate long-term and mutually beneficial partnerships between GCC importers and regional Australia’s agriculture exporters
Co-Author: Michael Katz, Associate Lecturer at The University of Sydney Business School

Abstract Overview: The States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, provide an important market for Australian agribusiness. In 2013, GCC trade with Australia was AU$12.307 billion, of which Australian exports of live animals and other agricultural and food products comprised around AU$2 billion (DFAT 2015). With rapidly growing populations but minimal arable land and potable water, GCC countries are increasingly turning to trade and investment to underpin their national food security strategies. Having learned lessons from failed investments in food in developing countries, often food insecure themselves, GCC countries are now looking for export and investment opportunities in low-risk, net food exporting countries such as Australia. Whilst negotiations for an Australia-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) FTA remain suspended pending the GCC’s review of its trade agreement policy, the resumption and successful outcome of talks leading to an FTA between Australia and the GCC would provide invaluable opportunities for the development of regional agriculture in Australia.

The aim of this paper is to identify possible opportunities for agribusinesses in regional Australia by examining the needs of GCC countries to secure long-term, sustainable food imports and explore how regional businesses might best align with these opportunities, both in the short-term and in the future as trade relations are further enhanced by the prospect of an Australia-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) FTA. In doing so, the authors will draw on work they recently concluded for a GCC sovereign wealth fund in developing a food security investment strategy. Discussion will include the methodology developed for devising what the authors have called a dual mandate investment strategy that delivers on a food security mandate and also achieves a minimum expected financial return. As will be argued, GCC-based investors who have a specific food security perspective differ in approach to traditional capital investments or offtake agreements. This in turn points the way to significant opportunities for Australian businesses in the agricultural sector to pursue long-term, engaged and mutually beneficial partnerships.

To view and/or download the Conference program, please click here.  For information on registration or to book your delegate pass, visit the website here.