'No magic bullet' for rural communities

A COMMISSION for Rural Australia could be established to better represent the interests of regional Australians, a conference on the future of rural and regional Australia has heard.

Dr Anthony Hogan, head of the Australian National University's National Institute for Rural and Regional Australia presented a paper he co-wrote to the institute's conference in Narrabri.

The paper outlined how such a commission could be created to ensure the socio-economic well-being of rural Australia by making government partner with local communities.

"The commission could be responsible for developing a national strategy for rural and regional Australia, including the identification of priority areas, outcome targets, minimal level of service delivery requirements and service delivery mechanisms," Dr Hogan wrote.

"It would need to address challenges between spreading resources too thinly to be effective, over whether specific areas need to be progressed ahead of others."

The paper analysed the potential, and the challenges, of the localism strategy, highlighting that there was "no magic bullet, no one simple solution which addresses the socio-economic viability needs of all rural communities".

A national partnership, in the form of an independent commission, should be backed by legislation to overcome challenges for rural areas including the "electoral demands for knee-jerk responses from policy makers in the face of crisis".

The paper was one of several presented on the future of rural and regional Australia during the two-day conference, which concluded on Thursday , discussing the challenges of making sure rural Australians' voices were heard by policy-makers.

Topics:  regional australia

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