Transcript - Interview with Elliott Lovejoy - Triple M Cairns

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

Cairns Art Gallery Precinct on the weekend. I'm going to get the experts – I'm going to talk about this. It's an absolute pleasure, actually, to have this person on. And, kids – hey, I mean, dream big. This gentleman started off life in Wagga Wagga. He is now the Deputy Prime Minister of this great country. Let me introduce to you Michael McCormack. Hello, mate.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

G’day, Elliott.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

How are you doing?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I still live in Wagga Wagga, actually.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

Are you still based there?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Yeah, absolutely. Why would you – well, I won't say why would you want to live anywhere else because I'm in regional Queensland – because everybody loves Queensland.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

I was going to say –

MICHAEL McCORMACK

But – so, yeah – no, I still live in Wagga, yeah.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

That's outstanding. I mean, hey, if you ever feel like a sea change – and by that, I mean you actually want to live in a town that has the ocean, Far North Queensland, I'm sure, would happily take you. Can you go through this Cairns Art Gallery Precinct announcement and what it means for our region?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

So what we have is an economic recovery partnership with selected areas around the Nation, and this is one of them. $10 million dollars going towards the Cairns Gallery Precinct project. It, of course, we know, is one of those international‑class museums, art galleries, precincts. And we want to enhance that. We want to make it even better. And it's got three heritage‑listed buildings. They include, of course, the Cairns Art Gallery, the old courthouse and the former Mulgrave Shire Council offices.

Look, I've been up here with Bob Manning. I've been up here with Warren Entsch. I've – I've seen what it has to offer. We want to make it even better. And Warren Entsch – as soon as it became available – this money, this funding – he said, "Look, this – our area has really been hard hit with a downturn of tourists. COVID‑19 has stopped aviation as we know it. We need to get something happening. We need to inspire confidence back into the local economy and this is going to do it."

This is going to curate local jobs – regional work. It's going to actually bring – when the tourists come – start coming back – and, of course, they're awash with the place at the moment. I was in a lift yesterday with a lady from Tasmania who'd taken advantage of one of those half‑price tickets to come to Cairns. She said, "Look, I normally wouldn't come up this far north. I normally wouldn't come to Queensland, indeed, at this time of year." But she said, "I took advantage of one of those half‑price tickets." She said, "I've brought the whole family. Yes, it's raining, but there's still plenty to see and do." Look, you know that, Elliott –so do your listeners. There's lots to see and do here. But we want to – when those travel bubbles get in place, when the international tourists come back, we want to give them a reason to come. And, of course, the world class Aboriginal art that they have here at Cairns and everything else that the wonderful gallery, the wonderful art museum, has to offer is only going to be promoted and enhanced and bettered because of this announcement today.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

Michael, a quick two‑parter: first of all, in terms of local jobs, what are we looking at; and, second of all, why is it going to bring people to the region? Because, you know, people go to the Gold Coast because they want to go to the theme parks, maybe. People come to Cairns a lot of the time because they want to go to the Great Barrier Reef. Why are they going to come to the region for an art gallery precinct?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, they're going to come for the art gallery precinct, but everything else that Cairns has to offer.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

Yeah.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I mean, when you've got a day like today and you've got tourists all over the place, you know, what are they going to do? Well, they can't really go swimming. They can't really – well, they can if they go outside. I got drenched this morning doing stand‑up media out there near the lagoon.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

I thought you were going to say stand‑up paddle boarding. I was like, "Geez, what a start to your day that would be."

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I thought you were going to say stand‑up comedy there.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

Yeah.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Sometimes it is. But, look, once operational, the Cairns Gallery Precinct, it is expected to inject more than $20 billion into the economy. And it's all about jobs as well – it's going to support 177 full‑time jobs. And, you know, during the construction it's going to create more than 40 local jobs. It's going to general rate $60 million for Cairns businesses just during the construction phase. So this is pretty exciting stuff. These are big numbers. And what we want to see is numbers through the Gallery so that when people think of Cairns, they don't just think of everything else that people know and love about Cairns; they also think about the art museum, they think about this gallery precinct. And, you know, we've got more than just young families coming to Cairns. We've got older, sort of, grey nomads who – you know, they want a reason to come. They want a reason to visit and then they want to go back home and tell others, "Gee whiz, that Cairns – what a cultural precinct that is. What a great place to visit." You know, some of those people – they don't go – they don't go swimming, but – I tell you what, they'll go to an art museum.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

Fair enough. And we'll get all the info on this one on our Facebook page, too. "Triple M Cairns" is all you need to search on Facebook for that.

Wagga Wagga's finest. I tell you what, you must – when the phone call lights up and it's from Canberra sometimes, at least you know you can dodge it because you know who could potentially be calling you. The Deputy Prime Minister of our country, Michael McCormack, we really appreciate you making the time this morning and this announcement for the region as well.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

No, no, it's all good. It's made possible because of the hard work of Warren Entsch. So he's a good local member.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

Yeah.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I had dinner with him last night with the Chamber of Commerce. And I tell you what, they're doing a great job for the 510 businesses that are part and parcel of that great organisation, too, let me tell you.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

Good on you, Michael. Appreciate your time.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

All the very best.

ELLIOTT LOVEJOY

Thanks, legend.

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