RAI's review of White Paper finds lack of detail

THE Federal Government's much vaunted Asian Century White Paper lacked detail about the opportunities and challenges facing regional Australia.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard launched the White Paper late last year to great fanfare, claiming the Asian Century would have profound benefits across a range of industries and parts of Australia.

But a review of the White Paper by the Regional Australia Institute found it was bereft of analysis and policy recommendations for rural and regional Australia.

"While the paper identifies significant opportunities for regionally-based industries, it only alludes to the importance of regions in realising the potential for growth and change associated with the Asian Century," the policy briefing reads.

"Of the many 'policy goals and pathways' outlined, the adaptability section is the only one which links directly to a regional policy approach."

In devising a regional policy approach to the White Paper the RAI briefing calls for an assessment of each region's competitiveness against future trends.

The RAI is in the middle of examining the strengths and weaknesses of each region, with the assessments expected to be finished by April.

"Policies should be tailored to enable regions to reach their full potential in the Asian Century and support communities which may be disadvantaged," the policy briefing reads.

On a positive the White Paper did imply some "significant regional trends", the RAI review found, although each would require "quite different policy approaches".

The RAI review also found the three waves of economic change - resources, food and services - identified in the White Paper would have "profound implications for regional Australia".

"The level of success in the relationship between regional Australia and the resources industry will have a significant impact on the extent to which Australia benefits from the latter stages of the resources wave in the Asian Century," the review reads.

"The development of new products and adaptation of existing services to meet Asian demand will be essential.

"This has important regional implications.

'The White Paper refers to education and tourism, both of which are significant industries for many parts of regional Australia."



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