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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 574


Mr HOGAN (Page) (16:54): Mr Speaker, I almost feel obligated to welcome you back to the chair and to the speakership in 2017. As someone who is on the Speaker's panel, I thank you for your mentorship.

I have the pleasure and, indeed, the privilege to represent the physically beautiful town of Nimbin. It is not only physically beautiful; it has a great community spirit as well. Nimbin is overseen by the majestic Nimbin Rocks, a significant cultural site to the local Indigenous people. The rocks were home to the Nimbingee, or Clever Men. They were also initiation grounds for young men. The name 'Nimbin' comes from the local Widjabal people, whose Dreamtime speaks of the Nimbingee spirit people protecting the area. It was a logging area and then became a flourishing dairy region as well.

Nimbin famously hosted the Aquarius Festival in 1973 and from then became the home of alternative culture. It has led the way in a number of areas. Its largest employer for a long time has been the Rainbow Power Company, which was one of the first to embrace solar power and living off the grid when it was founded 30 years ago. At the time, many people gave little or no thought to solar energy, and it is now mainstream. The town also embraced permaculture long before the rest of the country had heard of it. Today, Nimbin's permaculture garden, the Djanbung Gardens, attracts thousands of visitors every year, including from overseas, to learn about agriculture and food production. They have led the charge to legalise the medicinal use of cannabis. As you would know, Mr Speaker, the parliament passed legislation last year to legalise the medicinal use of cannabis.

More tourists visit Nimbin than nearly anywhere in New South Wales. In fact, the only two places in New South Wales that attract more tourists are Sydney and Byron Bay. This is an amazing statistic given that the town's population is around 1,000 and fewer than 10,000 people live within a 15-kilometre radius. Also, Nimbin has a sense of humour. My son, Sean, used to play soccer against Nimbin, and the Nimbin soccer team are known as the Nimbin Headers. Their motto is 'We score'. Of course, the Nimbin annual MardiGrass festival is now in its 25th year, with events like the Hemp Olympics, which includes a tug of war with local police. All of this and more is covered by the town's very own and very popular newspaper, The Nimbin Good Times, which is the community voice of Nimbin and, indeed, the wider region.

Above all, Nimbin is a community that accepts all people. It is a community that proudly bands together. I remember, when I was working with my local primary school some 20 years ago, we were trying to buy back the old school site. It took us quite a while to raise the money to do that. Nimbin did it as a community very, very quickly. Nimbin does, however, like a lot of communities, have challenges. A current challenge is methamphetamine, or ice, use, but it is an issue that the community knows it has and is tackling head-on. I encourage everyone who has not already visited this beautiful and vibrant part of Australia to do so. We know from the statistics that many people already do visit beautiful Nimbin.

I would like to acknowledge some people from my electorate who won awards at the recent Australia Day awards. Firstly, from the Ballina shire within the Page electorate, Shirley Oag, from Alstonville, who is 93, received an OAM for service to the community through disability support organisations. Sportsperson of the Year was Russell Priddle, Local Hero of the Year was Kirk Trease and Senior Citizen of the Year was Beatrice Gray. I thank you all for the contribution you make to our local community. I would also like to acknowledge those in the Coffs Harbour City Council area who live within the Page electorate and also received Australia Day awards. To the Young Citizen of the Year, Patrick Mullan; the Sportsperson of the Year, Alisha Phoonie; the Volunteer of the Year, Scott Rodham; and the Sue Hunter Memorial Award recipient, Peta Fairbairn, I thank you all for the wonderful contribution you make to our community.

House adjourned at 16:59



 

 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Vamvakinou ) took the chair at 10:01.