MAJOR regional cities across Australia injected a massive $210 billion into Australia, or more than 15% of the nation's economic activity, in 2012, an economic analysis has found.
The analysis, by Essential Economics, for the relatively new group Regional Capitals Australia, has examined the economic contribution of the major regional towns around the country.
While it has not broken down the figures into local regional areas, it has included several Queensland and northern New South Wales towns and cities among the list.
Adding to the $210 billion figure were towns including Mackay, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Moreton Bay and the Fraser Coast in Queensland and Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Ballina in NSW.
The report, based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data, also found the 50 "regional capitals" could be home to an extra one million people overall by 2026, population growth faster than the national average.
RCA chairman and Wagga Wagga Mayor Rod Kendall said the report was a first-time effort at highlighting the economic impact of Australia's "regional capitals".
He said the analysis showed larger regional centres were appealing due to a range of factors, including affordable property, which the report found was up to 60% less than the national average in some areas.
The report also found along with a rise in expected population growth, most of the regional cities listed would share in labour force growth up to 500,000 over the next 15 years, adding to an existing force of two million people.
Cnr Kendall said building approvals were also a big contributor to regional towns, generating some $11.7 billion or about 15% of the value of all building approvals across the country, mostly for residential projects.
He said he had also met with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Assistant Minister for Regional Development Jamie Briggs in the lead-up to the budget to emphasise the importance of regional investment.