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Abstract

Regional cities are an important element of the national settlement system, and supporting their growth is a policy objective for different governments across Australia. The aim of this paper is to examine how Regional Development Victoria has assembled and applied an evidence-base to support decision making about how to accelerate the growth of Victoria’s regional cities. The paper begins by outlining the policy context in Victoria and the Government’s objective to achieve more balanced growth across the State. This objective has been articulated through the Government’s land use and infrastructure planning documents. The first component of the evidence-base was a literature review to identify existing research about regional city growth and factors important to their development. The second component involved testing these factors empirically through a comparative analysis of regional city growth and all non-metropolitan local government areas in Victoria. This analysis indicates the importance of local competitiveness factors to explaining differences in regional city economic performance. These include measures of human capital such as tertiary attainment and skilled labour supply, industry mix, and the quality of local infrastructure. The third component of the work involved more detailed regional city profiling to further understand these factors. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of this analysis for future policy development and investment to accelerate the growth of Victoria’s regional cities.

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