Regions tackle change better

REGIONAL Australians are adjusting to economic and social change better than their capital city cousins.

That was the finding reported in an article by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics in the December issue of Australian Commodities.

It is regional Australia, not urban Australia, that is adjusting to change, the article said.

“The highest levels of structural change have occurred largely in remote areas of Australia,” the article said.

ABARE draws its conclusion from the report of the 1999 Productivity Commission into the impact of competition policy reforms on rural and regional Australia.

ABARE singled out the South West as demonstrating a high level of structural change since 1991.

The lowest levels of structural change occurred in Perth, areas in south-east Australia and some coastal regions in central Queensland.

The article also demonstrated that population decline in regional areas was a myth.

In the ten years to 1996, fifty-seven Australian country towns declined by 10 per cent or more, while 271 towns reportedly expanded by at least 10 per cent.

What has been occurring is not only an ‘urban drift’ but also a ‘coastal drift’ that has left inland areas in decline while coastal regional areas grow, the article said.

Between 1986-96, 20 per cent of WA’s estimated 50-plus country towns declined by 10 per cent or more.

During the same period, 46 per cent of WA towns experienced a

10 per cent or greater population increase.

Of those towns with a declining population, nine were involved in sheepfarming and/or mining.

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