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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 13979

Mr WOOD (La Trobe) (19:54): This evening I'd love to talk about a plan we had last election for creating jobs; in particular, in the tourism industry in the La Trobe electorate, covering the Dandenong Ranges. I know Mr Speaker is the guardian of the Dandenong Ranges. He'll be very pleased with a number of these announcements, which we worked together closely on.

The focus I had on tourism was rather simple: if you have more tourism projects in an area, it creates jobs. And what this government has always been about is creating jobs. It also has the incredible flow-on effect of making the area we call home an even better place to live. Some of the projects we got behind were simple. At the iconic 1000 Steps we put drinking water taps down at the bottom and also at the top. It was something people had been talking about doing for years but had never achieved. Now every person who goes up 1000 Steps, especially on a hot day, has access to drinking water.

In total, nearly $30 million was committed to different projects, including a walking trail between Cockatoo and Gembrook. This was something that Cardinia Shire Council was very keen on. It's to make sure that you have that connection between towns. I've undertaken part of the walk and was very impressed with the design and how excited the local people were about a walk from Gembrook all the way down to Emerald.

Another great project we had was the RidgeWalk project. RidgeWalk goes right across the Dandenong Ranges. I recall, Mr Speaker, that I joined you in the announcement of extra federal funding not too long ago. The whole reason we put $5 million into this project is that it's such a special project. RidgeWalk goes from one side of the hills right across to the other and encapsulates the amazing history of the landscape artists, from Tom Roberts to Arthur Streeton, Eugene von Guerard and Indigenous artist Lin Onus. It is a really exciting project.

Another project that many people may not be aware of is called Bunjil Place. It's in Narre Warren, close to Fountain Gate. This was an incredible project undertaken by the Casey council. The entire project cost in the vicinity of $125 million, and at the federal level we contributed $10 million. The architecture of this project is truly amazing. It's won international awards. Anyone listening tonight who is in Melbourne or travelling to Melbourne: please get down to Bunjil Place and see this incredible piece of architecture. It's got an 800-seat performing arts centre and an amazing library.

We also have Emerald Park's Lakeside Discovery Centre, which is connected to the Puffing Billy Railway. Puffing Billy has over 500,000 tourists each year. You could get off at Emerald Park Lake and have a look at the beautiful lake but there weren't many other activities, especially in inclement weather. The discovery centre will capture the history of Puffing Billy and grow to be an incredible tourist attraction for the local area.

Something I was really proud to get behind is a project I call the red rattler project. A number of years ago a constituent by the name of Peter Smith said to me: 'Do you know what you should do? You should restore an old red rattler train and bring the tourists from the CBD out into the hills.' Well, guess what? At the last election we committed $1 million to this project, and the red rattler train, we believe, should be ready to launch in May this year. It's a beautiful old red rattler train. I assume people have seen the Harry Potter films and the old Victorian carriages. It's just like that. This is going to be such an exciting project.

As I said at the start, the government have been very focused on creating jobs, and, locally, we've been very focused on creating jobs in tourism. You can only do that with a very strong economy, which this government has achieved.

House adjourned at 20:00