Transcript - Parkes main street refurbishment opening

KENT BOYD, GENERAL MANAGER PARKES SHIRE COUNCIL:

I guess I’d like to acknowledge the contribution, the significant contribution, from the Federal Government – $4.2 million for this project. Obviously, there were two parts to this puzzle, which made reporting a dream for our grants officer trying to manage the same fund under different reporting milestones. But she’s done that. So, thank you to the Federal Government.

Thank you also to Sally. It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the significant contribution that she makes to Parkes. We are here opening a lot of events and grants, and it’s testament to the work that Sally does. And I think it generally goes unnoticed, so I’d like to pay that acknowledgement to you, Sal.

To the businesses, thank you for your support, your understanding and your patience with us during the project. We know it was difficult times, but we know that many of you could see what the foresight and the plans and see what was coming to fruition. The project was delivered well in the project time frames and the budget, and again testament to Rob Staples in keeping a tight program.

I’d now like to pass over to our Mayor, Ken Keith.

KEN KEITH:

Well, firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. It’s wonderful to have you as our local member. I think we need to give Michael credit that during this COVID period over the last six months he hasn’t forgotten about his electorate. He could have just stayed in Canberra and been working there, but he still keeps coming out here and looking after his electorate. And we really do appreciate your presence here today, as well as the significant contribution the Federal Government has made to this main street and later the main stage in Cook Park.

The main street just hasn’t happened; it’s taken three or four years of planning and consultation with the business community. It’s part of the Parkes main street vibrancy strategy that we put in place back in 2016 and here four years later we’re seeing the result of that. To me, the results speak for themselves. When you look at what this street used to be – we have a before and after shot – it was really just a wind tunnel and very uninviting place and now we have this wonderful streetscape, wonderful lighting at night-time when the Parkes town centre sign is lit up. It really does look very special. And so a big thank you to the Federal Government. The Building Better Regions Program - no better way to spend some of those funds than on the main street of Parkes, which is a regional shopping centre around the town.

Could I just thank the local businesses who have been interrupted by all the works over the last 12 months. You know, in and out, and doors closing and streets being closed. You name it, it made it very difficult for businesses, but they’ve been very understanding, and I hope the final product means it’s all very worthwhile. And many of the businesses have also upgraded their shopfronts to coincide with the new development of the street and it now really does look a very inviting place for visitors and investors to come and look at our town and invest in it as well.

So it’s my great pleasure on behalf of the Parkes Shire Council just to say a big thank you to the Federal Government for the Better Building Regions Fund and the $4.2 million towards this particular project. May it contribute to a COVID–led recovery in Parkes. Although we’ve been planning for four years, the timing could not have been better in terms of trying to stimulate the CBD of Parkes, which has been under a lot of pressure like every other community’s CBD during this COVID time. So let’s hope we see that we get a vaccine out and we can all get back to shopping locally again and in our own towns personally rather than having to do it online.

So without further ado, I might invite the Deputy Prime Minister to officially unveil the works here for the main street.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

I will do that, Keith, but I will do my 45-minute speech that you requested me to do beforehand. But I do acknowledge Ken Keith. What a mighty mayor he is and what a mighty council he leads. It’s a can-do council, and when the Federal Government partners with councils that have that positive attitude it makes life, it makes the job so much easier.

I acknowledge Neil Westcott and certainly Alan Ward, fellow councillors of this wonderful local government area. Things happen in Parkes. Things happen because you’ve got positive people – positive people with a plan and a vision to build better community capacity. And that’s what the Building Better Regions Fund is all about. It’s making these regional communities realise the potential that they have. These areas are so vital towards, as Mayor Ken Keith has said, our COVID recovery.

And I commend Robert Staples for the project managing that you’ve done. I commend Kent Boyd, the general manager for, you know, working with Robert to bring about this fabulous outcome. And I acknowledge our local businesses, too – Marty, Gregor, please pass on to Geoff Rice – it’s a shame he couldn’t be here, but he’s obviously at the sheep sales at Forbes. But, you know, you’ve got a chamber here that also knows the value of small business. And small business will be the big beneficiaries of this upgrade. Clarinda St, the main street upgrade, so important to Parkes’ future success. Ken mentioned the visitors, of course, we’ve got the Elvis Festival, but there’s so much more happening. Parkes just doesn’t have one weekend a year – it’s every weekend. And we want more people to come and visit. We want more people to come and stay. As the good mayor has just said, we want more people to come and invest.

So that’s what it’s all about. Ben, as the MC of this function, you would know how much Parkes is, you know, going ahead despite COVID, despite the drought, despite everything that they’ve thrown against our regional communities, they are resilient. They are positive. They are happening places, and no better example of that than Parkes. And no better example of that than the main street upgrade that we’re here today opening.

(Unveils image of new nightscape). How good does that look? That is fantastic. That’s not an artist’s impression either. That’s what it looks like at night. That is the real deal. Well done, Mr Mayor. Good stuff.

KEN KEITH:

Now the Deputy Prime Minister mentioned to me when we were down at the Life Education Van, which is setting up its new inflatable classroom at East Parkes School, the first in regional New South Wales this morning. We ducked down there and had a photo and he said, “I want something to remember the day by. Do you have a present for me?” And I said, “Yes, we have.”

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

I think he’s exaggerating. I think he’s exaggerating.

KEN KEITH:

So on behalf of my fellow councillors and the citizens of Parkes, just a little gift to remind you of this special day in Parkes.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Thank you. Thank you, Ken. Thank you, council. I should open it, I suspect. It might be at my peril, I suppose.

KEN KEITH:

I don’t think it’s you singing in an Elvis suit.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

That’s such a shame.  (Unwraps framed photo of the new streetscape)

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Wow. That’s lovely. Look at that. Yep, beautiful. Look at that. There we go. How good’s that? Now, I probably should put that in my Wagga Wagga office or my Canberra office, because you people know what your main street looks like whereas they don’t. That’s fabulous.

MICHAEL McCORMACK:

Indeed. I did like when my office opened and the Mayor sort of sarcastically said that the dish had been replaced by a rather large thing, which happened to be my photo on the window. He’s claiming it was larger than the actual dish. Yeah, well, that’s lovely. Thank you so much. That’s really, really nice.

KEN KEITH:

We might get you to cut the ribbon.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Now usually, we’re cutting taxes and red tape but today we’re cutting blue tape so it’s very special to officially open the main street upgrade. Well done.

Media contact:

Dean Shachar – 0418 202 860