Benefits from the mining boom are still being felt in regional areas despite the prolonged downturn, according to a report from the Productivity Commission. In its interim report on transitioning regional economies, the Productivity Commission found about 80 per cent of regions had positive employment growth over the past five years, although most also saw decreases at times.
The report found employment in the mining sector was higher now than before the boom, and mining regions had been more resilient to the downturn than regions that were highly dependent on manufacturing.
Western Australia and Queensland had been most affected by the downturn in mining investment, with unemployment levels doubling in those states compared to the peak of the boom. Some regional centres, like Townsville in Queensland — a base for FIFO workers — had also been harder hit.
The Productivity Commission also looked into the impacts of decentralisation — moving jobs from capital cities to regional areas — and found in the past it had only limited benefit to regions.As the Federal Government adopts a policy that aims to move government agencies to regional areas, and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce comes under pressure for a decision to relocate the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to Armidale, the report highlights previous efforts in Victoria.
It cited the Transport Accident Commission’s move to Geelong, the State Revenue Office to Ballarat, the Rural Finance Corporation to Bendigo and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) to Traralgon.
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