Wednesday, 24 November 2021
O'Connor Electorate: Main Streets
Today I want to recognise the Morrison government's efforts to re-energise the main streets in the Wheatbelt region of my electorate of O'Connor. Following the recent WA redistribution, O'Connor now has more main streets than any other electorate nationwide, with well over 100 towns spread over 57 regional and remote municipalities. The government is acutely aware of the importance of main streets to the continued prosperity and vitality of regional towns nationwide. If you drove through the WA Wheatbelt just a decade ago, you would have seen that many main streets which had grown grand on the back of sheep and wheat had become somewhat shabby and jaded. But, thanks to the grassroots investment by the Commonwealth, that's changing in many Wheatbelt towns. Just last week I opened a major upgrade to the Memorial Park that adjoins Parade Street, the main thoroughfare of the Wheatbelt town of Pingelly. That $1.6 million upgrade was largely funded by $1 million from the $301 million extension to the Drought Communities Program. It has transformed a tired community and economic asset into a vibrant park that will encourage passers-by to slow down and stop in the town. That in turn will develop Pingelly's economy.
Elsewhere in the Wheatbelt, $2.1 million was announced, under round 5 of the Building Better Regions Fund, to upgrade Barrack Street, the main street of Merredin, as well as Bates Street. Like the project in Pingelly, the Merredin initiative will greatly improve parkland in the town centre. The $4.27 million project will provide pedestrian-friendly spaces and improve the profitability of nearby businesses. The town of Beverley, which is currently in the electorate of Pearce—the electorate of my good friend sitting here on duty in the House—has been enabled, under the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, to improve pedestrian and wheelchair safety and provide public art, trees and seating in the town's main thoroughfare of Vincent Street. The Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program is really underrated. Under this year's budget, all 57 local government areas in my electorate will receive funding from phase 3 of that highly successful funding program. Under phases 1 and 2, the Shire of Cuballing received $114,000 to upgrade Francis Street in the small town of Popanyinning. Again, the idea is to get fast-moving travellers to slow down in the town's main street, take a breather and use the local facilities.
Finally, the Shire of Bruce Rock has been very innovative in installing temporary parklets to provide outdoor seating and dining near food businesses on Johnson Street. That trial proved a great economic social and success, and $126,000 was provided to make the street parklets permanent. Thanks to these three visionary programs aimed at building better regions, cushioning the impact of drought and providing community infrastructure, many main streets in the WA Wheatbelt are returning to the vibrancy of their heyday.