Presentation: The evolution of Australian towns
Australia’s population has become increasingly concentrated in major coastal cities and regional centres, while many rural inland towns have declined. Lucy’s presentation is largely based on The evolution of Australian towns, a report of original research conducted by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). This report analyses the impact on regional towns in the face of advancing technology and changes in retail, industry, amenity and investment markets. A key finding is that a gradual weakening of the relationship between local industries and the towns that support them, alongside increases in life expectancy and wealth, has seen growth in the importance of amenity as a key driver of modern settlement patterns. The Bureau concludes that a stronger focus on amenity and services are likely to offer the most success in allowing modern Australian towns to prosper. The combination of natural beauty, good local services and transport accessibility can make a winning combination for towns going forward.

Lucy Williams is a long term economics researcher in the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). Projects have included work on multiple regional and cities projects including developing Australian Taxation Office data for spatial analysis, significant field work supporting the Bureau’s costs of remoteness work and co-authoring The Evolution of Australian towns. She also has research experience in the United Kingdom and has worked in the Australian government’s regional policy area.

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