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Tuesday, 25 February 2020
Page: 1415


Senator McGRATH (QueenslandDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (20:11): It has been a month since I joined the Roma and Maranoa community for their annual Australia Day celebrations. This year's Australia Day was particularly special for the Roma and Maranoa community. I'll get to exactly why that is shortly. Before I do so, I'd like to congratulate the new Australian citizens who pledged their commitment to our Queen, country, laws and values and officially joined our Australian family on 26 January. I'd also like to recognise the Australia Day Award recipients: Citizen of the Year Donna Sutton; Young Citizen of the Year Hannah Hughes; Donna Nugent, who received the Sports Award; Brodie Hewitt-Bryant, who received the Junior Sports Award; Heather Hall, who received the Member Contribution Award; and Judy Blinco, who received the Andrea Murray Memorial Award. And of course I would like to recognise members of the Roma Clay Target Club for holding the Community Event of the Year and Roma Performing Arts for receiving the Cultural Award. Congratulations and thank you all for everything you've done and are going to do for Roma and the broader Maranoa community.

This in itself is special, but what made this year's Australia Day all the more special was that it coincided with the opening of the new multipurpose facility at the Roma Saleyards. Instead of the traditional celebrations at the Cultural Centre in town, this year's Australia Day ceremony and celebrations were held in the new Stud Stock Arena at the Roma Saleyards. The Roma Saleyards is the largest livestock selling centre in Australia and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Over the last 50 years the Roma Saleyards have sold over 11 million head of cattle. It is such a huge number it is enough to make you blush. In the 2018-19 financial year alone, 319,035 head of cattle were sold through the saleyards.

Not only is it an agricultural powerhouse; it's an economic dynamo for rural and regional Australia and the local Roma and Maranoa community. Not only has it sold over 11 million head of cattle; it has also injected around $5 billion into the Australian economy. It is an agricultural powerhouse and a large gem of Western Queensland. That's why the new multipurpose facility is so important, not just to the saleyards or to the Roma and Maranoa community but to regional Queensland and Australia. The new multipurpose facility is more than just a building with a workspace, canteen and amenities. It is more than just an interpretive centre to showcase the industry and attract visitors. It is more than just a stud stock selling arena to buy and sell prized cattle. It is a community asset, a meeting place, a place of work and play. The Australia Day ceremony and celebrations were proof of this.

But this asset did not come about by chance. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither were the Roma Saleyards. It took a lot of work by a lot of people over a lot of years. It is impossible to thank everyone, but I'd like to mention a few champions. First of all I'd like to thank Roma Saleyards Advisory Committee and its Chair, Councillor Peter Flynn. Councillor Flynn has been a long-term advocate for the saleyards over many years and has sweated many buckets of sweat making this come about. I'd like to thank the Maranoa Regional Council, in particular councillors Chambers, Newman, Chandler, Schefe and Stanford for their backing. I thank the councillors who are going to step down at the coming elections for their years of service to the Roma and Maranoa communities. I missed one person on that list deliberately, and that is Cameron O'Neill. I don't think a day went by without Cameron O'Neill buzzing in my ear, and the ears of my colleagues, about the Maranoa and Roma saleyards, making sure that he was advocating on behalf of his community.

Thirdly, I'd like to thank my state and federal colleagues the member for Warrego, Ann Leahy, and the member for Maranoa, Minister Littleproud, and not forgetting John McVeigh, a former minister, and Barry O'Sullivan, a former senator. Finally, I'd like to thank, on behalf of the taxpayers of Australia and, in particular, of Queensland, the three levels of government—local, state and federal—for their contributions and for working together to make this project come about.

In closing, I'd like everyone to visit the Roma Saleyards. Go and watch the sale days. Go on a tour. Look through the interpretive centre. Grab lunch. Grab a coffee. Get an icy pole. It's everyone's to enjoy. Buy some cattle; sell some cattle. It is the place to go. Roma and Maranoa, you've done well.