Experts say decentralising the public sector could help boost local jobs.
Experts say decentralising the public sector could help boost local jobs.

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AUSTRALIA'S chief commerce boss says the Federal Government needs to support both regional and capital cities when considering decentralisation.

Federal Regional Services and Decentralisation Minister Mark Coulton has touted the success of decentralisation across the country.

But Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson said the issue wasn't about shifting growth from cities to the country but aiming to support both.

"Entrepreneurs and start-ups no longer need to look to inner-city regions to establish their business and find the customers they need to grow and turn a profit," Mr Pearson said.

"Greater access to markets via e-commerce, free trade agreements and integrated and connected supply chains are all acting to break down barriers and create a wave of business opportunity within our regions.

"To support this, investment in digital and transport infrastructure are critically important."

Mr Pearson said there needed to be deeper connections between regional universities and industries to deliver "new opportunities for business in areas of agribusiness, ag-tech and food processing".

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland's Dan Petric said regional industries would struggle without a clear strategy on moving government departments into rural communities.

He said satellite offices being disseminated in regional towns could help solve issues of service availability.

"The town is only as strong as the country," Mr Petric said.

"It's debatable as to whether there's been enough decentralisation because when it's all concentrated in Brisbane, you lose the skill-readiness in other parts of the state.

"Having satellite offices where people could do a day from a particular region ... could boost the productive capacity of not just Brisbane but the cities that rely on it."

Independent Australian economist Saul Eslake said it was not possible to say whether the benefits of decentralisation outweighed the costs, saying there was a "significant risk" of losing experience and capable staff through the move.

The Regions at the Ready: Investing in Australia's Future report, published after a nationwide inquiry into the issue of decentralisation, recommended the Federal Government factor in existing industry and available skill forces in regional cities when considering re-locating government departments.

It recommended establishing a "public sector decentralisation policy" and greater investment in regional infrastructure from the private and public sectors. - NewsRegional