THE Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) last month released the 2016-17 State of the Regions report, which finds a widening gap in employment rates, household incomes and productivity between and within Australia's regions and cities.
According to the ALGA, the report tells a concerning story on the inequity across some of the economies in Australia's regions.
"For instance, if there is no policy action to expand productivity growth outside in Australia's knowledge economies such as Sydney, four-fifths of the Australian population that lives outside Sydney and the resource-rich regions will face declining opportunities for work and real incomes," the ALGA said.
The report, which was prepared by National Economics, also finds that regional income ranges from $20,000 to $30,000 above average in high-income regions and dips to minus $13,000 below average in the lowest income region.
On top of this, the unemployment level across regions is ranging from a low 3% for the best performing regions to between 10% and 17% for many of the other regions, illustrating a deepening inequality at a regional level and threatening economic growth on a national level.
Dr Peter Brain, co-author of the report, said the report shows that the country's prosperity is concentrated in isolated pockets of Australia, with many regions finding it difficult to plug into this prosperity due to insufficient telecommunications and transport infrastructure.
"Modelling by National Economics shows that a program of increased local government grants would lift national income and achieve greater equality in the distribution of income and opportunity across the country, with particular benefits to the low-income, mainly rural regions," Dr Brain said.
In response to the report, President of ALGA, Mayor Troy Pickard, said that a definitive and comprehensive regional development policy is now crucial, with more strategic stimulus needed from the government to help boost all of Australia's regions.