The State of the Regions (SOR) is a report prepared by National Economics and published annually by the Australian Local Government Association. It is officially launched at the Regional Cooperation and Development Forum, held each June in Canberra.
The SOR divides Australia into 67 regions.
Every local government authority is allocated within a regional type or zone. The regional typologies have been updated and now consist of: Core Metropolitan, Commuter suburbs, Mining based, Agriculture based, Lifestyle, and Independent Cities. The report provides a detailed analysis how these regions are performing and then analyses the likely consequences of current issues: including productivity, demography, climate change, housing and telecommunications.
The core objectives of the SOR are to:
The State of the Regions report provides an annual stock-take of the economic well-being of Australia's regions and their prospects for economic development and employment growth.
The latest report prepared by National Economics (the Australian Institute of Economic and Industry Research) brings forth the data and analysis showing a growing inequality between metropolitan and remote/outer lying regions, when looking at the indicators of population, GDP, income from work, productivity and household disposable income. A detailed analysis of regional performance is provided across household wealth and income, construction, industry and employment, unemployment and social security take up.
Additional commentary is provided in relation to potential vulnerabilities from Chinese trade, with both indirect and direct exports of both goods and services considered for the 67 defined regions. Insights are also provided into the energy sector, outlining electricity generation by fuel type by SOR region from both renewable and non-renewable fuel sources.
An overview of the finance sector and its role at the SOR regional scale is also provided, asking, "what should local government be looking for as [scrutiny and changes in the finance sector] plays out?"
This year's report revisits the critical question of boosting regional economic productivity. It examines the levers that can drive growth and thereby assist to tackle the growing inequality found in parts of Australia. This year’s report continues to build on the accumulated knowledge of previous State of the Regions to provide a coherent framework for analyzing the challenging task of contributing to sustainable regional development and what this means for all levels of government.
The report includes a discussion of the Productivity Commission's Initial Report into Transitioning Regional Economies and updates the typologies used to describe Australia's regions. It updates our knowledge of the diverse industry structures and regional economic base of Australia's 67 regions, and provides a commentary on regional aspects of the state of income transfers between regions, housing and construction, employment and skills and local government finance.
This year's report also includes chapters on the growing significance of Intelligent communities, cyber security and energy.
The report provides extensive data for regions covering all of Australia, that includes a chapter on the aggregated regional indicators for the nation, as well as the metropolitan regions of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth, and Northern Australia
This year's report examines Local government’s role in tourism development. Local government helps to administer many tourist attractions and assists in the presentation of tourism-related events. It also provides much of the basic infrastructure which supports the industry, especially transport infrastructure. This year’s report seeks to better understand the importance and complexity of the visitor economy from a regional perspective - not only the opportunities for income generation, but also the associated problems of seasonal and low-wage employment.
The report includes an investigation of the Commonwealth role in local government finance. It also covers regional aspects of education finance and regional differences in the pathways from early childhood to satisfying employment.
Regular features included in the report are updates on the structure of regional incomes, skills and employment, housing and wealth, telecommunications, energy and climate change. The report provides extensive data for 67 regions covering all Australia and also includes a chapter on recent economic trends in the major metropolitan areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
This years report's major theme exposes the inequality that exists within and across Australia's regions. It reinforces what the OECD has argued in its report: In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All ( 2015), that there is need for a new policy approaches and investment that seek to decrease inequality and that the adoption of such actions are good for the national economy.
Countering regional inequality needs to go beyond the traditional emphasis on direct tax / transfer redistribution, and focus more on geographically appropriate and targeted investments, including infrastructure provision , training and job creation activities.
The report provides an analysis of the structure of regional incomes and inequality, skills and employment ( including youth unemployment), housing and wealth, state of the roads assets, and updates on telecommunications, the post mining boom, labour productivity and northern Australia.
This year's Report examines the challenges facing Australia's regions in strengthening their competiveness in the global economy. Infrastructure investment remains one of the key drivers in economic growth and this year's report continues to investigate the full range of infrastructure needs that are necessary in delivering sustainable regional development across the country.
The report discusses the structural adjustment challenges facing Australia post the highs of the mining boom and the subsequent stresses placed on the domestic manufacturing and export sectors. The report also investigates the trends in aggregate job growth from a regional industry structure perspective and provides a detailed account of the employment situation for Australia's young people.
In continuing with the infrastructure theme, the report discusses some of the challenges of developing northern Australia and provides an interesting overview of the role that income tax concessions may play for regional Australia. These issues are timely given the Government's current investigations into the future opportunities for developing Northern Australia.
Given the widening gap between the prosperity of Australia's regions and major metropolitan cities, the report reinforces the need for Australia to encourage innovation and support the growth of the knowledge economy. The message is clear - we need more sophisticated frameworks for measuring infrastructure projects, we need to invest in public infrastructure and learn from our trading partners like New Zealand, on what exporting paths we must consider, now that the economic tide is receding.
The 2013-14 State of the Regions Report presents further policy findings that builds on the work commenced by National Economics in last year's 2012 -13 Rethinking Regional Development.
This year's Report provides further evidence on why a new national approach to regional development is required and what alternative policy approaches should be considered.
The Report incorporates the latest census analysis examining population and migration, as well as distribution of employment, income and wealth. The value of increasing infrastructure investment and productivity across industries is discussed.
A chapter is devoted to examining the consequences for the Australian economy and its regions post mining boom and the implications from a social and economic perspective of natural disasters and the role played by local governments.
This year’s Report is timely given that it examines the future of regional development in light of the ongoing impacts of the patchwork economy, ever tightening fiscal budgets at both the national and jurisdictional levels, the darkening economic clouds in the United States of America and Europe.
Consequently, the Report raises several questions designed to encourage policy makers to contemplate what changes may need to be made to Australia’s regional development policies to strengthen regional investment in the future. It continues the call for more action to be delivered in the areas of critical infrastructure provision and provides an interesting commentary on the history of financing infrastructure in Australia..
This year's report also includes discussions on trends in real unemployment, population growth, productivity and general construction activity.
The report introduces a new benchmarking methodology for Australian regions and provides commentary on what may be required in developing a more rational approach to regional development in this country.
As with previous years, the Report will provide detailed projections for 67 regions.
The 2011-12 State of the Regions report critically examines the regional effects of the mining boom which took off in 2005. The report produces a balanced analysis of both the benefits and costs associated with the mining boom and the effect the mining boom is having on other industries, as well as the potential regional implications when the boom finishes. Lessons from Norway are included as a best practice international case study.
This year's report includes discussions on trends in population growth and productivity. Additional commentary is made on the state of dwelling construction and household indebtedness, and what this may mean for housing affordability.
The report also provides additional commentary on climate change and its implications and impacts on Australia's economic prospects, and concludes with its fourth review of the state of Australia's telecommunications - broadband infrastructure.
The regions have been revised to better reflect the Regional Development Australia regions, which has subsequently seen the number of SoR regions increasing to 67 from last year's 65.
State of the Regions Report 2010-11: