Transcript - Interview Port Macquarie Doorstop

LESLIE WILLIAMS

Well, welcome everybody and thank you for coming out for this really exciting event today. I want to begin though, by acknowledging that we are meeting today on Birpai Land and pay my respects to elders past and present and emerging and just acknowledge those from the Land Council who have joined us here as well. This is a really exciting day and I really want to just congratulate those people in our community who started this process. I want to particularly acknowledge Kathryn Butler and Fred O'Toole, who’ve been working very hard on the Committee. I want to thank them for coming to me in the first instance to get some funding to really push the idea about having a tidal pool in Port Macquarie. We know very well that some 18,000 people out there are supporting it. And I suggest once they see these plans today, there are going to be 18,000 more. So congratulations to the Pool Committee. You've done an outstanding job and you are to be highly commended, representing our community on this fantastic project. I’m going to hand over to my friend and colleague, Pat Conaghan. But I also want to acknowledge my other friend that stands to the left of me, the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack.

PAT CONAGHAN

Thank you, Leslie and I too would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians the Birpai people and I'd also like to welcome almost all of the Board of the Birpai Land Council. And Leslie, you're quite correct. This is such a great day and I'd like to thank you for your work prior to me coming along in the last 12 months and the work that you've done with the Committee for a number of years to make this actually happen. And just looking at the designs today, they are greater than I could have ever imagined. And I congratulate the Pool Committee on what they've done – the designers, the architects – because it is something just fantastic. And I'm sure that we are going to convert those who said Port Macquarie didn't need an ocean pool. This is just a magnificent design. It's going to be so good for our locals. It's going to be great for tourism. It's going to be good for the elderly. It has the disabled access, eight lanes, great for the Ironman. This is something that the community has wanted for many, may years, for almost four decades. And I'm proud to be part of it.

And I'd like to acknowledge the Deputy Prime Minister today and his efforts in helping Port Macquarie get this jewel in the crown. And I'm so excited to be a part of it. I'm so excited for the next steps. And I would like to thank the Birpai Land Council as part of a partnership with us. It wouldn't be possible without them. And I look forward to in the not too distant future being able to be part of it, swim in it and share it with the local community. So this is a $4.5 million investment by the Federal Government into our community, our electorate. And I'd like to thank Michael for your assistance in helping us gain that.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, thanks Pat and I acknowledge Leslie Williams, the hardworking Member for Port Macquarie, I acknowledge David Carroll and the team from the Land Council of the Birpai Nation and acknowledge their presence here today, their support for this particular project. One could say the butler did it. Kathryn Butler and her hardworking team who have advocated for this for many years. But it also would not have been made possible without the efforts, without the advocacy, without the funding from Pat Conaghan, the hard working Member for Cowper and the support of Leslie Williams, who has been a dedicated and committed Member for Port Macquarie for many years. And may she be the Member for Port Macquarie for many more years to come. This is a great project and I'm so excited to be here. We've got the right designs. We've got the right location. The surf is up and it's very wild today, so what this project is going to enable is for visitors and locals to be able to swim at a safe location even when the surf is at its wildest. And I know that it is going to draw people from near and far. And I know that during the construction phase, it's going to provide jobs. And through COVID-19, what we really need is jobs and stimulus and those relief and recovery projects. And this is going to be certainly one of them.

And who would have thought, Pat Conaghan has actually delivered this $4.5 million project after just 12 months in office. I mean, this is the sort of bloke that Pat Conaghan is. He wears the carpet out into my office, advocating for more roads, advocating for more funding, advocating for better infrastructure. Today, he has delivered yet again. Yes, Scott Morrison came and announced this project, this funding during the election period. But sometimes these particular projects take many years of planning and development and all the rest. But Pat Conaghan has delivered on his promise, and that's the sort of member he is, that's the sort of member Leslie Williams is. This is what The Nationals do in government. We build, we construct, we provide jobs. We provide hope, we provide prosperity. And this is another example of this. This community is going to benefit largely from this.So there's going to be so many things happening at this particular feature, at this particular tidal pool. It is going to be such an exciting project right along here on the foreshore, right along here on the beach at Port Macquarie. It's a wonderful place to holiday. And I have to say, if there's one thing that is certain, with COVID-19, when we get through this and we will, is that there are going to be a lot more Australians looking for an Australian destination at which to spend their holiday money, at which to visit. And with international tourism, that's going to be quite a quandary going forward. And we know that domestic and regional flights and domestic and regional travel is going to crank up a lot quicker than is international tourism. So a lot more Australians are going to be looking for that holiday destination at home, a lot more Australians are going to be visiting Port Macquarie when they have a facility such as this. The word will spread – Port Macquarie is the place to go. Port Macquarie is the place to holiday.
 
JOURNALIST

Deputy Prime Minister, when can we expect construction to actually get underway?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I could imagine construction will start very, very soon. Of course, it will go out to tender. Kathryn Butler might have more to say about that. But I'm sure that, you know, tenders will be called for, tenders will be asked and the construction will begin very soon. We want these projects to happen. We don’t just want to talk about them, we're not just talking about them. We're actually delivering them. So I'd like to think that, Pat, we could get construction happening pretty soon and we can get the project done because they’re projects which do require the right engineering. But in this local area, we've got the right people to do it. I was at a business dinner last night where there was a number of people, you know, looking to boost jobs, looking to boost productivity and efficiency in Port Macquarie through COVID. It has hit this community hard, like it’s hit all regional communities hard. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that regional communities bounce back. They bounce back first. They bounce back fastest. And they bounce back hard because they know that without that self-sufficiency, you know, it's going to be difficult. And so, when you've got hardworking members like Leslie and Pat in there, fighting hard for these communities, you've got Mayors like Peta Pinson and the whole community banding together, you get projects like this happening, you get jobs back on the ground and you get these sorts of infrastructure projects out of the ground, up and happen.

JOURNALIST

Sorry to be repetitive but the surf today, particular evidence of why something like this might be necessary for our area?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, absolutely. The surf is up. The surf is wild and it's not the place for the faint hearted to go. In fact, when you've got a project such as this, it's going to get families and get people and even hardened surfers and hardened swimmers who know just how to swim. And they know that the treachery of the conditions, they can go into this tidal pool, swim safely. And know that they can at the end of the day, having had a good swim, having had a good cool-off, they can go home and enjoy their families and enjoy the rest of the day. Unfortunately, if you go out into the surf today, for those who aren't used to it, well, sometimes tragedies occur. And so that's why these sorts of facilities are so important. That's why water safety is so important. That's why we're investing in these sorts of projects. As a Federal Government, we want to make sure that people are water safe. We want to make sure that they have the very best facilities and regional Australia deserves them.

Thank you very much.

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