Queensland One Nation leader and Member for Buderim Steve Dickson MP has pledged to build the long planned Sunshine Coast Arts and Exhibition Centre at SunCentral Maroochydore if his party wins government or has the balance of power after the coming election.
Mr Dickson said, “The Major Arts and Exhibition Centre was first proposed in 1984, but never actioned by either the LNP or the ALP and it’s time their dithering and non-support for the Coast be shown as the contempt it is.
“One Nation will ensure allocation of $100 million for the project and expects it to be supported by $25 million from Sunshine Coast Council.
“The project is well overdue; the Sunshine Coast is by far the largest population base without a fully tiered theatre of commercial size and the declared Principal Activity Centre of Maroochydore has no dedicated convention or entertainment facilities.
Joe Natoli, Former Mayor of Maroochy Shire Council said, “This is welcomed news, because based on the history of the Sunshine Coast this announcement was not going to be made by either the LNP or the Labor Party. “Over the 33 years since the first study there has been nine premiers -5 LNP and 4 Labor and the best offer we have had was when Fiona Simpson and the Newman Government made a pledge, however it was subject to major government owned assets sales, if re-elected, and a significant financial contribution by council.”
This facility will signal confidence to the market and it will be a major driver to further private investments, which in return means lots of jobs. “It’s exactly what council needs to drive its investment and commitment to building the new centre at SunCentral. The commitment by Steve Dickson and One Nation will mean council NO LONGER will need a casino as a carrot to make this happen.”
Mr Dickson agreed with Mr Natoli, “I strongly believe that with our funding, council will no longer need to consider a casino as a driver to building a Sunshine Coast Arts and Exhibition Centre at SunCentral”. This is a problem for Local Governments when, like the Sunshine Coast, they have been seeking major funding for key infrastructure and continually ignored by the major parties, they have to look towards extreme measures like building a casino.
“The economics of the project are undeniable and One Nation has the vision and foresight to push ahead with funding this important regional project.”
“In the last 33 years there have been at least five major feasibility studies into the project, culminating in the ill-conceived Ranbury Report of 2010, now discarded by Sunshine Coast Council because it was costed at about $381 million in today’s dollars. The cost of the Ranbury proposal was always going to be too high to attract government funding support; consequently a more realistic ‘ask’ is required, Mr Dickson said.
He said, “A 2007 Report into the project by former Nambour Civic Centre Manager and then Manager Community Events & Celebrations, Michael Bloyce built upon all the concepts and feasibility studies carried out to that point.
“It proposed an integrated and versatile set of facilities, as follows:
- a 1,260 seat, tiered theatre catering for Performing Arts and Conferences;
- a smaller, flexible, more intimate theatre of 350 seats;
- an exhibition hall of 2,500 sq. m, which would cater also for medium-scale entertainment (seating up to 2,500 patrons), conventions and banquets; and
- a regional art gallery for the central Sunshine Coast.
Mr Dickson said, “It is proposed that the Sunshine Coast Arts & Exhibition Centre should be designed in accordance with Mr Bloyce’s 2007 Report, which costed the Centre at $94 million, plus car parking.
“Using the RBA’s inflation calculator, this sum is equivalent to $119.5 million in 2017 dollars and allowing for a planning and procurement delay of a further two years before construction commences, total funding estimated at $125 million is required to deliver the facility.”
“The economic benefits of building the centre would be enormous for the Sunshine Coast.”
“By way of comparison, Darwin Convention Centre was opened in 2008 at a cost of $110 million. It has a 1,200-seat capacity in its largest auditorium and some 4,000 square metres of exhibition space, so it is slightly larger than that envisaged for the Sunshine Coast. After five years of operation, the venue had hosted 360,000 visitors and 1,000 events, worth an estimated $230 million in economic benefit to the Northern Territory economy.
“Given this result and the Coast’s larger population; and adjusted for 2017 dollars, it is estimated that a new Centre on the Sunshine Coast will generate at least $250 million in economic impact in the first five years of its operation. In other words, the return on investment will be 2.5 times the subsidy outlaid,” Mr Dickson said.
He said a new Arts & Exhibition Centre at Maroochydore will not compromise the existing Sunshine Coast Events Centre at Caloundra.
“The Caloundra facility will be required into the future to service the southern Sunshine Coast and, in particular, the new developments at Caloundra South, expected to be home to approximately 50,000 people.
“However, a new centre located in the Principal Activity Centre of Maroochydore (SunCentral) will make it possible to reach about 90% of the Coast’s population within a drive time of half an hour, compared to only 50% for the existing Caloundra facility.
“It will also give economic credence and social capital value to the new Maroochydore CBD,” Mr Dickson said.
One Nation Candidate for Maroochydore Cam Young said, “This One Nation funding announcement is excellent news for the Maroochydore electorate and the entire Sunshine Coast Region. As a former member of the Sunshine Coast Arts and Convention Centre Committee I know that this centre is long overdue and will be well utilised by both locals and visitors alike.”