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Wednesday, 25 March 1987
Page: 1530

Mr LINDSAY(7.25) —On 6 March 1987, at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, I had the honour on behalf of the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) to officially open an exhibition known as Lesiurerama 87. Leisurerama 87 was organised by a volunteer committee which included Army, community and business leaders for the sole purpose of promoting the recreational activities available in North Queensland generally and the Townsville-Thuringowa region specifically. Leisurerama 87 was held at the attractive theatre-pool complex at Lavarack Barracks. All displays, both static and active, were surrounded by a carnival-style atmosphere comprising music and dance. A full program of demonstrations over the three days of the exhibition provided entertainment and sustained enthusiasm. Emphasis was placed on hands-on displays to encourage public participation.

Leisurerama is a unique concept which is particularly suited to Townsville. Townsville military commanders and civilian community leaders are constantly seeking ways to integrate the large Townsville defence population into the community. The good image of service personnel in Townsville has never been higher and the spirit of co-operation that exists between the military and civilian communities is unmatched anywhere else in Australia. Although the need for Leisurerama was first identified by the military, the concept was immediately embraced by the people of the cities of Townsville and Thuringowa, for it provided a previously unavailable opportunity to introduce service personnel and their families into the social fabric of the community, principally through membership of sporting and cultural clubs and travel associations.

In the past, many service personnel and their families have served their two-year postings in Townsville either unaware of the range of community interests and activities available to them or perhaps too shy to make the initial contact. The organising committee of Leisurerama 87 has been encouraged by the response of the local organisations which, by their attendance at Leisurerama 87, demonstrated their willingness to welcome service personnel and their families into their community. This attitude strikes right at the heart of the problems addressed by Mrs Sue Hamilton in her 1986 report to the Minister for Defence. The people of Thuringowa and Townsville are proud that they were able to do something unique and positive to promote military personnel and their dependants in the Townsville-Thuringowa area.

Leisurerama 87 was a great success. Approximately 40,000 people attended during the three days of the exhibition. Reaction from both exhibiters and the public was very enthusiastic and positive. It was an opportunity for all travel and leisure associated clubs, companies and organisations in the Townsville region to promote themselves to the public. Having regard to the large annual influx of new service personnel to Townsville, as well as many residents looking for activities to fill their leisure time, Leisurerama 87 was a welcome form to show what is available in the way of recreation and travel. It was also an opportunity for clubs to gain new members. Leisurerama 87 proved to be a most effective tool for gaining greater involvement by defence families in sporting and cultural associations, and hence accelerating their assimilation into the Townsville-Thuringowa community. In addition, Leisurerama 87 gained a great deal of excellent publicity for the Army in north Queensland.

The Minister for Defence endorsed Leisurerama 87 as an excellent initiative and gave it his full support, recognising that every effort and opportunity should be taken to assist defence personnel and their families to integrate well into their new environment in Townsville. Approximately 10,000 defence force personnel and their dependants live in the cities Townsville and Thuringowa. Their presence and the supporting services they require mean that almost $100m is injected into the local economy annually. Leisurerama 87 was tangible proof that the Townsville community valued the presence of its large defence population and it was time to enhance the benefit of their presence for both civilian and defence members of the community.

On behalf of the Hawke Government I commend the initiative of the Commander, District Support Group, Lavarack Barracks, Colonel Peter Desmond, and Major M. Evans, not only for organising Leisurerama 87 but also for its outstanding success. Their competence, skill and dedication were truly outstanding. I congratulate everyone associated with Leisurerama 87.