APN Editorial Director Bryce Johns. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
APN Editorial Director Bryce Johns. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily Warren Lynam

The facts of the country-city divide are astonishing

I CAN'T afford to be accused of plagiarism, so credit to the newspaperman who used the following line to describe the Fair Go campaign we are championing.

"It's the scandal in our towns that has been hiding in plain sight,'' the NewsCorp senior journalist said when Australian Regional Media was talking about joining forces on this major push for regional Australia.

The facts are astonishing.

If you don't live in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, you die earlier, you are less wealthy, you are sicker, more likely to be on a benefit and sit lower on a bunch of other key life scores.

And is it because we're living in ghettos?

No. In the communities we operate, we're talking about some of the most liveable places in the world - from beach paradises to hinterland havens, and rural food baskets to gorgeous outback.

Yet we start at a disadvantage and finish (earlier than our city counterparts) that way. It's why Fair Go is the campaign I feel most passionate about from 30 years in journalism. If we get some wins here, we will change people's lives.

With a Federal election race under way, voters should be asking: who is going to deliver better for the regions?

We'll be putting questions to the pollies, so look out for their answers when considering who you vote for.

This is a big hairy problem, and it won't be easy to solve. We are working to get politicians to understand the depth of the situation in the regions.

We want them to take regional media seriously, and through us better explain what programs they have to right the imbalances.

And each of our mastheads will be identifying the projects that are most vital to our specific towns and cities.

Look out for those in particular.

Who is going to deliver the new hospital in Kingaroy? Better roads in Central Queensland? Job opportunities in Mackay?

We're going to lead the charge for a Fair Go. Please tag along for the ride, for all our sakes.

Bryce Johns is the editorial director of Australian Regional Media. bryce.johns@apn.com.au