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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Page: 1490

Mr CROOK (O'Connor) (09:45): I thank the member for Cowan for acknowledging Ian Napolitano, an old school friend of mine. I would like to take the opportunity to mention two key regional projects in my electorate of O'Connor that are currently requesting federal government support through the Regional Development Australia Fund. These projects are the Wagin Integrated Food and Fibre Processing Hub and the Katanning Town Hall redevelopment. Both of these projects have the potential to greatly enhance their regions.

The Wagin food and fibre hub will be a major economic driver for this area of regional Western Australia. The project will include the construction of a desalination plant; a co-generation power supply capable of producing green energy from oat husks, straw, mallee and green waste; and an inland aquaculture system capable of producing 125 tonnes of barramundi in the first year of operation. Working with Western Australia's Murdoch University, the Shire of Wagin hopes to use new technology to grow barramundi in saline ground water. It is a unique and visionary proposal by the Shire of Wagin that will lead to the creation of new jobs, the generation of renewable energy, the reduction of waste water and the attraction of new industry to the region. The Wagin food and fibre hub will diversify the regional economy creating a more sustainable and regional community in regional Western Australia.

The Katanning Town Hall redevelopment is another important project for O'Connor. It will have particular benefit to the Great Southern region of my electorate. Katanning is a major regional centre in the Great Southern with a direct population of more than 4½ thousand residents and servicing an additional 9,000 residents in surrounding shires. The recent construction of the Albany Entertainment Centre in my electorate has been a great drawcard for the Great Southern region. It has attracted world-calibre entertainers, musicians and performers to the region. As a major centre, Katanning is perfectly placed to host many of these act as they pass between Albany and Perth. But, due to the size and condition of the current Katanning Town Hall, the ability to attract these acts is limited. By expanding and improving the existing facility, Katanning will be able to attract performances which are rarely seen in regional Western Australia. The Katanning Town Hall redevelopment will include the installation of a retractable seating system, a new kitchen and bathroom, a temporary stage, dressing rooms and modern sound and lighting systems, and a refurbishment and redesign of the state heritage listed building.

Having recently met with the shires of Wagin and Katanning to discuss these projects, I am impressed by their commitment and drive to enhance the region. Both of these are very positive and innovative projects and I commend them to the House.