House debates

Thursday, 28 October 2021


Bennelong Electorate: Events

12:56 pm

Photo of John AlexanderJohn Alexander (Bennelong, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Over the last 10 years in representing Bennelong, I've started a number of initiatives designed to bring the community together. They've been huge successes in the past, but the last 18 months has caused disruption to them, as the last 18 months has caused disruption to many things. But I'm pleased to announce that there are a number of local initiatives starting back up as we all start to re-open and look to the future.

The Bennelong Table Tennis Cup is something I'm incredibly proud of. First devised in 2010 as a way of bridging multicultural divides in schools through sport, we provided free table tennis tables to all schools through the generosity of a local company, Hyundai, and, in 2019, we replaced any tables that had not survived the arduous needs of schools and their sporting infrastructure. Last year, the competition was sadly cancelled. This year, again, we have not been able to bring all the schools together in one place for the big event, so we're taking the lessons of 2021 and adapting the event so that students can still take part. This year, I'm encouraging schools to do an in-house event, and, when permitted, I'll be delighted to come to your school and present certificates to the winners and all those who participate.

The Bennelong Village Business campaign has similarly had a hiatus for the last two years, as promoting local businesses has been hard while they have all been shut. But now we are coming back with a vengeance. This shop local campaign started back in 2010 when I received a lot of feedback that the small shopping areas around Bennelong weren't bouncing back as well from the GFC as larger shopping centres were. It's fair to say that exactly the same can be said today, as many of the local shops are struggling with the bills after many months of lockdown. The rush of business as we re-open will be a huge benefit to many, but we still must encourage everyone to shop at our local businesses whenever possible. I'm in discussions with local chambers of commerce to see how we can supercharge this initiative, and I intend to visit as many local shopping districts as possible over the coming weeks to ensure that we get the message out about the benefits of shopping locally.

Also making a welcome return is the Stronger Communities Program. This is the seventh round of this excellent program that enables local groups to invest in the broader community. Last year alone, we had some wonderful and inspiring applications for new minibuses for our local mobility group, Stryder; new community gardens for Epping Rotary Club; and IT equipment to help the wonderful Eastwood Chinese Senior Citizens Club. Great projects get funded through these grants. I look forward to seeing what will be coming through this year. Grants are up to $20,000. Normally, they need to be matched with funding from another source. But recognising the difficult times that many community groups are having at the moment, this requirement has sensibly been waived. To apply, please contact my office and get an application form and make sure it gets back by 9 am on 3 December. It promises to be another great round.

One thing that can't be held back is the mighty Bennelong Christmas card challenge. Every year, I conduct a Christmas card design competition for local primary schools, and this year it's on again. The competition never fails to reveal new, wonderful, original designs. The winning designs will feature on my Christmas cards this year. That will be sent to many local community members and groups. Each grade per school from K to 6 is able to submit up to two works. The winner will be on the cover, while the four runner-up entries will be on the back page. Any school that wants to participate needs to submit artworks to my office by 19 November.

I'm so glad to be able to announce that these initiatives are coming back. They are all designed to help the community and bring us all closer together; enjoy our freedoms. I just can't think of a better time for that than right now.

Question agreed to.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 13:00