The federal government will use a $41 million research package to identify public service jobs to move into regional areas under the next stage of its decentralisation project, according to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
Mr McCormack said decentralisation - including programs to relocate public service jobs to the regions - remained on the government's agenda.
He said research funded by the government would look at what cities could be sources of the next public service jobs for relocation to regional Australia.
"There's been hundreds of jobs already moved out of the cities, but it's not just about government departments, it's not just about parts of government departments, it's also about businesses taking those options and looking to the regions to set up," Mr McCormack said.
The Nationals leader, speaking before the start of a national Regional Australia Institute summit in Canberra on Wednesday, said Australian Taxation Office staff who moved to Albury-Wodonga under decentralisation projects since the 1970s would not return to capital cities.
"If you tried to extract those workers who are in the Taxation Office in Albury, you'd never ever get them back and that was very much a great thing for Albury-Wodonga, and at the time it was probably considered those workers in the ATO were probably wanting to be ensconced in a capital city, but now they love Albury-Wodonga," he said.
Mr McCormack also said Canberra had been "the best decentralisation project of all".
"Since government moved here in 1927, it has become the decentralisation success story of Australia," he said.
The government last year announced $41 million for a decentralisation research and development policy package to prepare the next stage of the project to move services and jobs to regions.
Decentralisation Minister Andrew Gee in November said the policy would broaden after focusing for years on moving public service jobs to regions, and would involve the nation's business and education sector.
Mr McCormack on Wednesday said the government wanted to look at the public service jobs it could move to regional areas.
"What the $41 million dollars will identify [is] we've done a lot so far. What will we do in the future? Where might we go with this and what public servants in various departments would want to have a regional lifestyle change to get out of the hustle and bustle of the cities and come to a regional area?" he said.
"Once you go there you may never want to go back."
Mr McCormack said Wagga Wagga, in his own electorate, had been a better fit than Canberra to host government-funded research organisation Agrifutures, formerly the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. The organisation had expanded since moving there, he said.
"I don't actually see much wheat being grown in Kingston or Barton, but I do see a lot across the Riverina," he said.
"We've had other government department employees moving to the regions; they love the lifestyle experience, they love the fact that they've got open air, big backyards, communities that care."
Mr McCormack made the comments as the Regional Australia Institute launched a new $5 million campaign to attract city-dwellers to the bush.
The government has moved jobs from Canberra since 2016, when then-Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce announced the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority would move to Armidale.
Other federal agencies that have moved jobs from the ACT include the Murray Darling Basin Authority, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Infrastructure portfolio's regional programs branch.
Critics of the decentralisation policy have previously said it should focus on moving public service jobs from Sydney and Melbourne.
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