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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2143

Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (22:02): As Mr Speaker, being a great friend of Townsville, will know, Townsville is a growing city. It is a great city of great communities and sporting teams. It is an inclusive society. Our major growth corridor is in our Northern Beaches suburbs. People are moving to North Shore, Bushland Beach, Deeragun, Saunders and Toolakea beaches and on past Bluewater, all the way to Rollingstone. These suburbs are gaining respect for their growing numbers of teams in all sporting contests.

While campaigning during the 2010 election campaign, I met with a delegation of sporting clubs and concerned parents who were looking for a multi-user community hub which could double as a cyclone shelter for these suburbs. We need a solid community based consultative approach to achieve a truly great result for our communities. This would normally be a state government responsibility, but the Northern Beaches are used to being forgotten by a tired Labor state government pushing nearly 20 years old.

In fact, after Cyclone Larry ripped through Innisfail, up the Palmerston, and through the Tablelands in 2006, the then Premier, Peter Beattie, said that every town and community would have a cyclone shelter in which they would be able to house and feed a community in times of danger. To date, they have failed abysmally. To cap it all off, this tired Labor state government were caught with their metaphorical pants down around their ankles when Cyclone Yasi devastated Cardwell and Tully.

The current Premier had the gall to stand there and say that they were going to start the shelters now. If not for the charity of the United Arab Emirates gifting us $30 million, they would not have even been able to start. Added to that, this tired and out of touch state Labor government have not even considered one on the Northern Beaches. To date, Townsville has not had a single cyclone shelter built, and that is since 2006. But, like the GP superclinics of this Labor government, we are progressing well!

I have spoken to our shadow minister for communities, Kevin Andrews. He is keen to get to Townsville and discuss the matter with the stakeholders in relation to our community hub for the Northern Beaches. He understands that this is primarily a state matter, but he is actively looking at areas from where federal funds could be sourced. Townsville City Councillor Sue Blom has been an advocate for this community centre for some time. They have costed the centre at approximately $5 million. My vision for this would not only provide the Northern Beaches with somewhere to go in the event of a cyclone. In the lead-up to Cyclone Yasi, all of the Northern Beaches area was evacuated. The ADF came in and helped people get ready, but they had to leave.

The Northern Beaches also suffers more than other areas every wet season when Blakeys Crossing goes under. This changes a trip to the city from a 20-minute drive to a two-hour slog. I have recently seen the state main roads minister increase his offer on this road from $12 million to $20 million, but he is still adamant that the Townsville ratepayers should pay to flood-proof a road which was the Bruce Highway. That the state government has pulled over $100 million from land tax alone at the Bohle industrial development makes this election offer even more disingenuous.

But, to take the politics completely out of it, this is about community. This is about a part of town which is crying out for a centre. Like the Townsville Strand, built by the Tony Mooney-led council after Cyclone Justin, the Northern Beaches needs a heart and soul. If you go there during the Northern Beaches Festival, you will see people in every little hamlet putting on a great show of pride. You will see the different communities reaching out to each other. What the people of the Northern Beaches are saying to me is that they would also like to have a place where they can come together as a community and share. Recently I attended the Bluewater Scouts markets. It was a great group led by fantastic people who are trying to make a difference. They have their own site but, if they were ever to put in an application to host a major jamboree, they would have nowhere to put the other scouts. If they had a community hub, they could keep their identity and their own headquarters but use the central facility as the need arose.

The Northern Beaches is our newest part of town. It seeks an identity. It wants only what is fair. It wants to have a place as its own community centre. If you look at the size of the district and then look at the Deeragun community centre behind the Woodlands shopping centre, you will get an idea of the growth we have seen. We need a place where a community can come together and be that community. Sue Blom and I are as one on this. I know that the LNP candidate for Thuringowa, Sam Cox, feels the same way. The LNP member for Hinchinbrook, Andrew Cripps, has continually bent my ear on the need for community support for dancing, craft, and all community events. It is time we did something and I am fighting to make that happen. (Time expired)