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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 963

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (10:33): I wish today to speak about the Somerset Civic Centre in Esk. This new centre will fill the void caused by the fire which burnt down the 101-year-old Lyceum Hall in May 2010. The Esk community was severely affected by the fire and also by the floods in early 2011. People across the whole region of Somerset showed great resilience. The Lyceum was home to many of the region's community groups, such as fitness and dance classes, the Esk Community Choir and the organisers of the Esk show. It held generations of memories as well as props, costumes and music. Its demise was a great loss to the whole Somerset region.

But out of the devastation came opportunity. With a growth rate of 4.5 per cent, the Somerset region is the fastest growing region in South-East Queensland. The Somerset Civic Centre will see new investment, new jobs, more employment opportunities, big events and conferences and attract more visitors. We do not want to see any more disasters in Esk. The people of Esk have suffered enough. I want to congratulate the Somerset Regional Council for listening to the local community and facilitating this community driven project.

The architects have worked to incorporate community feedback into the final plan for the building. It is estimated that 5,000 people—such as local artists and business groups—will use the venue each year for functions, dances and awards nights. The facility has been made possible by round 1 of the Australian government Regional Development Australia Fund grants. For round 1, the federal Labor government provided $150 million for 35 shovel ready projects worth about $480 million. Tragically, those opposite opposed every last dollar. The Regional Development Australia Fund is worth about $1 billion and my electorate will benefit massively from an injection of $2 million. The Somerset Civic Centre is a great example of a local government identifying a community need and shows how local people can offer local solutions and have them implemented through federal government funds.

The Gillard Labor government is proud to invest $2 million through the Regional Development Australia Fund into the Somerset region for the Somerset Civic Centre. The Esk skate park, the Ferndale indoor sports centre and the BER projects are all testimony to this federal Labor government's commitment to the people of Somerset. I am told that six jobs will be created during the construction. I was there at the sod-turning with the mayor of the Somerset region, Graeme Lehmann, who thanked the federal Labor government for the investment and said that the project would not have been possible without that injection of money. We will listen to local communities and act decisively to make sure that the people of Somerset and other communities around the country receive the funding that they deserve. Those opposite oppose this. I congratulate everyone involved in the project. I am looking forward to the fantastic facilities providing for the community for years to come.