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Thursday, 19 October 2006
Page: 154

Mr FAWCETT (12:41 PM) —I rise today to draw the attention of the House to the small regional communities in the electorate of Wakefield. Like all communities, they have points that are celebrations; they also have points that are struggles. This week communities such as Farrell Flat in the northern part of the electorate of Wakefield are highlighted in the paper in South Australia. I was up there recently visiting the combined school of Farrell Flat and Mintaro, speaking with them about some of the programs they have and some of the reductions they have to have in how that school is running because of the changes in the community. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that these communities form part of the backbone of our economy in Australia, being regional communities that support agriculture. We need to look at every way that we can support not only the farmers but also, importantly, the small businesses that rely on the income from farms and the community infrastructure around that. These small communities are part of what makes Australia tick.

Wakefield is probably a good example of what is happening in the rest of Australia in that we have some pockets that are doing things very hard at the moment and some pockets that are not as badly affected by the drought. I think it is important to note also that there have been very effective partnerships between all three levels of government and private industry to support some of these communities. Some of the work, for example, is in places like Saddleworth, where we have put in the Rural Transaction Centre. We are also looking at online post offices in places like Auburn and Roseworthy. Roseworthy is another good example of where the three levels of government—Light Regional Council, the state government, the Australian government through regional partnerships—have worked together with private industry. Companies such as Amcor have worked with the community of Roseworthy to make sure that the facilities in that town not only cater for the expanding residential areas around the town but actually bring some character and focus back to the town.

Roseworthy Tennis Club, Roseworthy Netball Club and Roseworthy Primary School, as well as residents, have come together to work with the levels of government to bring about a new community facility opposite the post office and near the school. It has seen a significant investment—some $150,000 from the Australian government, $50,000 from Amcor, $50,000 from the state government and $20,000 from Leightons—go into transforming an area that was wasteland into an area that has playgrounds for children and tennis and netball courts, all lit and built to a high standard. That investment has also provided drainage and guttering and turned what was almost a hazardous area, low-lying, near the old railway station, into a very useable and functional focus for that community.

The Country Fire Service has commenced expanding and renewing its facilities, but I am disappointed to report that the CFS shed, although basically erected, is not complete: it has no floor, no office and no operational facilities. As they are coming into potentially one of the worst fire seasons we have had for a number of years, I call on the state government to expedite the finance that is required and to put the focus on the project management to complete that facility so that that community has the operational facilities it requires to effectively put country fire services into the region where they are needed to combat fires.

I want this House to be aware that country communities are still strong and resilient. As the example at Roseworthy shows, with the cooperation of all three levels of government we can help them survive. But many of them are doing it tough at the moment, and we need to look collectively at the ways in which we can support them. I invite the state government to work with us, particularly as we look at the provision of rural financial counsellors in the electorate of Wakefield, where they have recently seen a drop in the number of those counsellors.