In 2004, under the Regional Partnerships Programme, the Diamantina Shire Council was granted funding of $440,000 (GST inclusive) as a contribution to the construction costs of the Diamantina Health Services' community-owned clinic at Birdsville. The project included a medical clinic, the nurses' residence, car parks, walkways and landscaping.
Birdsville is situated in the far south-western corner of Queensland. It has the distinction of being Australia's most isolated town. Birdsville has a population of about 120, but attracts more than 60,000 tourists each year. The demands on the clinic are already significant, and are likely to grow with the expected increase in visitor numbers.
The community health clinic was completed and opened in September 2005. The nurses have moved into the residence and the clinic is operational.
By contributing part of the costs of construction of the up-to-date medical facilities and nurses' residence, the Regional Partnerships Programme has helped provide greatly improved health services for residents and visitors. The clinic's facilities also enable medical staff to respond to emergencies in Birdsville and the surrounding region.
Diamantina Health Services Medical Clinic and Nurses Residence (Photo courtesyNorth West Queensland Primary Health)
In March 2005, Sustainable Regions Programme funding of $605,000 (GST inclusive) was approved for the Waratah-Wynyard Council in Tasmania. The funding was provided to erect a building to house the Wynyard Visitor Information Centre and provide space for a variety of regional exhibits.
The centrepiece of the exhibition area is the Ransley Vehicle Collection of veteran, vintage and classic vehicles. The exhibition covers their history and how they were restored, including a workshop scene. The collection, which is valued at about $3 million, includes the oldest Ford production car in Australia.
The centre houses:
- a visitor information centre, including an information desk, ticketing, accommodation booking and merchandising services, and an amenities area
- an industry exhibition area that features unique primary and secondary industries of the municipality, contemporary and diversified industry, and significant equipment and artefacts
- a local and natural heritage exhibition area featuring unique and natural heritage features of the municipality, significant places, and people of the past, such as Wynyard's Eugene Alexander, originator of the Alexander technique for improving posture and movement
- a temporary exhibition space
- the Ransley Vehicle Collection.
By contributing part of the costs towards the construction of this facility, the Sustainable Regions Programme has helped provide a centrepiece from which the Waratah-Wynyard community can:
- further enhance the reputation of North West Tasmania as a region providing diverse and quality tourism experiences
- promote the region's expanding tourism attractions
- encourage longer tourism stays, providing greater economic benefits for the region.
In addition, the exhibition centre will provide employment and training opportunities within the local region and ongoing education and training of the volunteer staff contributing to its operations.
The centre opened on 13 December 2005.
Norfolk Island's airport is operated as a business enterprise of the Norfolk Island Government. The air services it supports are the main link between Norfolk Island, mainland Australia and New Zealand.
Tourism forms the basis of Norfolk Island's economy and the airport is thus essential to the economy.
In August 2003, the Australian Government agreed to provide the Norfolk Island Government with an interest-free loan of $5.8 million to resurface the Norfolk Island airport runway. After tenders were called and evaluated, it became clear that the cost of the works would be as much as double the original estimate.
Recognising that the airport upgrade was critical to the health of Norfolk Island's tourism industry and economy, the Australian Government agreed to increase the amount of the original loan to $12 million. These funds were fully drawn down by the Norfolk Island Government during 2005-06.
Upgrading work involved overlaying the main 2,000 m runway, the cross-runway and the link taxiway, and resealing the two aircraft parking positions on the apron. The runway can now handle the bigger Boeing 737-800 series (162 seats) aircraft that may be used for regular services in the future. OzJet and Air New Zealand, the current air services operators to Norfolk Island, use Boeing 737-200 series (108 seats) and Boeing 737-300 series (120 seats) aircraft, respectively.
Airport runway upgrade works (Photo courtesy Norfolk Island Government)
Construction of South Australia's $20 million Gawler River Flood Mitigation Scheme received the go-ahead with a funding boost of $7.8 million in 2005-06.
The high priority scheme is designed to reduce the risk and alleviate damage from major flooding of the Gawler River, north of Adelaide. The project will, in particular, safeguard the many valuable agricultural industries, such as market gardens and vineyards.
The damages bill from agricultural losses alone for the most recent floods in November 2005 has been estimated at $40 million, with additional costs for infrastructure restoration, public health measures and individual house damage.
As the Gawler River floods, on average, every 10 years, it is clear that the Gawler Scheme will more than pay for itself in savings from the reduction in damage caused by future floods.
The major component of the scheme is a flood control dam on the North Para River near Turretfield. Construction is expected to commence in late 2006 following the completion of planning, design and land acquisition works.
Site of the poposed North Para River flood control dam near Turretfield, South Australia (Photo DOTARS)