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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6389

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (11:32): I have a question, but I would like to premise it with a bit of a statement. In talking about the number of projects here that got up in round 1, two projects were successful in my area. I want to say a little bit about them. The first project is at Lismore City Hall, which is home to the Northern Rivers Performing Arts group, NORPA, which is a nationally recognised group. It was set up quite some years ago and has been very successful. When the hall is upgraded it will be for commercial independent productions music. I was there recently having a look around and I know what a great difference it will make to the region. Also, the hall upgrade will allow performances to come to the region—

Mr Tehan interjecting

Ms SAFFIN: Can I have my go; you can have yours later?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms K Livermore ): Order! The member for Wannon will sit in silence. The member for Page has the call.

Ms SAFFIN: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It will make a huge difference not only to the hall but, as the minister just said, in terms of adding to the economic and social development of the region. That is a really important thing. The other project was at the Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport, operated by the Ballina Shire Council. The airport is an important gateway to the region and has grown considerably—as the traffic through it has grown considerably—over the years. Ballina Shire Council, like Lismore City Council, put up funding themselves for projects. They are absolutely project ready so that, when they put their applications in and go through the assessment processes, they have already done a lot of the groundwork, the grunt work, and the projects are not just ideas on paper. That is really important. I have five local government areas and I work closely with them and with the organisations beyond so that everybody is prepared and ready to take advantage of the opportunities when they come along.

I think that is an important role that we can, should and do play as local members, to make sure we are on the front foot. It does not mean that we will get everything we want, because we all want everything for our own particular seats and regions. But we can be out there leading and supporting, and sometimes leading from behind—it does not always have to be upfront—

Mr Griffin interjecting

Ms SAFFIN: Stop it! So there are different forms of leadership and they are all appropriate—that is my point. It is about working with the communities. That leads me to my question—

Mr Tehan: That's five minutes of my life I'm never going to get back.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Page will continue with her remarks.

Ms SAFFIN: The question is: Minister, would you please advise how the government is contributing to building important local infrastructure in the regions under the Regional Development Australia Fund? Hopefully you will be able to comment a little bit on the arts and also on some of the smaller projects in the smaller regions and areas, because sometimes it can be a bit harder for them to get a look-in. Secondly, how has the government's policy approach to regional development given expression to local priorities? Thank you, Minister.