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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 139


Ms PRICE (Durack) (21:14): I am very pleased to rise in this chamber to speak about one of the things I am very passionate about, which is Western Australia's north. Despite not often being thought about at all by the east-coast-centric media—not to mention the previous east-coast- and city-centric Labor government—the Kimberley and the Pilbara are two of Australia's greatest assets. Picturesque, diverse and an economic powerhouse, Western Australia's north has become one of the economic cornerstones of this government since it was elected just over two years ago. Western Australia's north-west is undoubtedly the engine room of Australia's economy, with the City of Karratha producing the sixth-largest economic output of all Australian municipalities—what a fantastic achievement!—and not forgetting the town of Port Hedland hosting the largest bulk port in the world.

The Turnbull government's commitment to Australia's north is unprecedented and will be one of the great hallmarks of the government when history writes itself. Since I was elected, I have overseen an enormous investment in infrastructure in Durack which has been second to none. After six years of it being virtually ignored—or written off, perhaps, as a safe Liberal seat by the previous Labor government—I have ensured that Western Australia's north has and will have the infrastructure it needs for today and tomorrow and for many years to come.

Before Christmas I announced that the City of Karratha was to receive $10 million in federal funding for the new Karratha Arts and Community Precinct project. This has been labelled a 'game changer' by the mayor, Peter Long. The Karratha Arts and Community Precinct project will provide iconic, contemporary cultural and learning facilities, not just for Karratha but for the Pilbara more broadly. The project consists of a state-of-the-art library, multifunctional theatre, modern outdoor amphitheatre and a war memorial—not bad for a city which is 1,500 kilometres away from the nearest capital city! For this city to thrive and, indeed, for the Pilbara to thrive, this is critical community infrastructure.

The library that I have referred to will include a professional research and education development zone, office space and personalised visitor centre services. The theatre and associated spaces will feature a grand open foyer, providing opportunities for showcasing local and Aboriginal art and local history exhibitions, and a stunning rooftop terrace space for cinema and outdoor events.

This project, along with the restoration of the Victoria Hotel in Roebourne, to which the Turnbull government has committed $2 million, will not only create local jobs in the Pilbara but also be a much-needed source of tourism and transport infrastructure to cultural, sporting and healthcare facilities in the region. Both of these projects will make the Pilbara more livable and hopefully will attract more families, which in turn will lead to fewer FIFO workers.

Following this government's Northern Australia white paper Our North, Our Future, the Turnbull government will make an unparalleled investment in the north. The Kimberley and the Pilbara have the potential to utilise one million megalitres of sustainable fresh water from the region, and that is why the Turnbull government will establish a National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, with $200 million committed to facilitate greater investment in water infrastructure in our north. This explicitly includes $15 million to determine available water and best locations for water infrastructure in the beautiful West Kimberley, and up to $5 million for detailed examinations of the economic viability of the Ord stage 3 development.

This is on top of $800,000 in funding to the Shire of East Pilbara for road construction or maintenance, over $620,000 to the Shire of Ashburton and over $590,000 to the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley, and these are just some of the many examples of the new infrastructure in the Pilbara and the Kimberley since I was elected. I should not forget the millions of dollars that have been spent on improving the Great Northern Highway and also the North West Coastal Highway. So, with the commencement of a new year, I look forward to announcing more infrastructure projects in the Pilbara and the Kimberley—two fabulous gems in my electorate.