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Thursday, 31 March 2022
Page: 1523


Mr HAMILTON (Groom) (10:09): It's my pleasure to tell the story of Railway Parklands, a fantastic Toowoomba story that started in the nineties, a time of big ideas. At the time, Peter Eldridge was the head of the CBD traders group. He had a vision with the team there for what Toowoomba could be and the challenges it would face as it grew. The city was almost split at the junction of East Creek and West Creek, going through Gowrie Creek, an area of town that had been let run. It was an area of town that could join the city together, that could be an important link in the city's future growth, and the CBD traders group believed strongly that this was an important area for us to develop. This was back in the nineties. It was a fantastic vision at the time—inner-city living, a thriving CBD, and a garden in the heart of the garden city.

Over time, that story has built up and people have come to us. Our mayor, Paul Antonio, has been a great supporter—and Trevor Watts, the member for Toowoomba North. I think of the work the chamber of commerce has done to support this project, to build its profile in the community and to understand what we needed. But, over those 30 years, things have changed. The CBD has changed. Whilst we are very happy to see Grand Central, a fantastic shopping centre, built in Toowoomba, it has had an impact on the rest of the CBD. Foot traffic has dropped off, and we've seen a fundamental shift in how people interact in our CBD.

Further to that, I think Toowoomba has changed from being a country town that gave people just what they needed to live to being a place that now needs to deliver what people want. Toowoomba has become an attractive destination, and people now expect a lot of our town. As time passes, this vision becomes more and more important for Toowoomba, particularly in light of the housing availability challenges we face as our city continues to grow at a faster rate than we can build it.

That's why I was so delighted to see this project included in the South-East Queensland City Deal, a fantastic outcome and a great win—a genuinely 'ground up' win for the people of Toowoomba. They saw that they needed it, and they have worked for it. I am very grateful that we have the support of Minister Paul Fletcher. I'm very grateful to the Premier of Queensland for including it in the deal. I'm very grateful to the South-East Queensland Council of Mayors for getting behind Toowoomba and supporting this fantastic project.

Of course, this is not the end of what I want to see for Toowoomba out of the city deal. More than $5 million has already been earmarked for Toowoomba city council from the $285 million South-East Queensland Liveability Fund. There is $10 million on the table for public arts initiatives like murals and sculptures. There is the innovation fund—and I know there are projects in our region fighting for that as we speak. This has been a great deal and a great win for the people of Toowoomba.