COMBINED EFFORT: Whitsunday Regional Council Deputy Mayor John Collins, Member for Dawson George Christensen, Mayor Andrew Willcox outside the Proserpine Entertainment Centre.
COMBINED EFFORT: Whitsunday Regional Council Deputy Mayor John Collins, Member for Dawson George Christensen, Mayor Andrew Willcox outside the Proserpine Entertainment Centre. Georgia Simpson

Starting over

MEMBER for Dawson George Christensen has said he would "leave no stone unturned” in a bid to secure funding for a new Proserpine Entertainment Centre.

The Proserpine Entertainment Centre has been closed since April this year due to ongoing repair issues from Tropical Cyclone Debbie last March.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox, Deputy Mayor John Collins and CEO Barry Omundson showed Mr Christensen around the derelict building last week.

Cr Willcox told the Whitsunday Coast Guardian the deeper they dug into the repairs of the centre, the more complex the issues became.

"We realised these big beams were missing in the roof; it looks like they weren't put in,” he said.

"There is no disability access for the stage, the toilets aren't compliant because they don't vent to the outside, and once you do an overhaul like this, the building is no longer fire compliant.

"It's like an onion, every time you peel back more layers, you're finding problems.”

"The bottom line is, at the moment council doesn't have enough to fix it. It looks like it is actually better to know it down and rebuild.”

The centre has been described as "the heart and soul” of the community, with wedding receptions, wakes and school concerts being held there.

Council received an insurance payout of $1.4 million after Tropical Cyclone Debbie, as well as $500,000 in funding issued by a State Government grant, but it was not enough.

"At this particular point, the main reservoir at Cannonvale Beach has been damaged and we need to make sure our funds are in that,” Cr Willcox said.

Mr Christensen agreed the community would benefit from a new building.

"It's a definite need for Proserpine, and I think if council put an application in, obviously, I'll be supporting it, and hopefully it gets some funding,” he said.

Cr Willcox said to refit the centre would cost more than $5 million.

"We could end up spending $7 million plus and we'd still end up with an old building. We could have a new state-of-the-art complex for $8-10 million,” he said.

Mr Christensen said he would leave no stone unturned in his bid to secure funding, and that the town would continue to be in the doldrums while the centre was out of action.

"This is the heart and soul of Proserpine and really, while it's down, the town is down. We need to take action, I know the council is going to be putting a better building application in for funding,” he said.

"It's going to mean more jobs, at least 100 jobs that will be going for the better part of the year, and then ongoing jobs once the centre is opened, and that's the economic benefit for the community.

"There's more than once way to skin a cat, so I'm going to search high and low to get that funding as soon as possible.

"There is funding available, let's just get it in council's pocket.”

The council has applied for a grant from the Building Better Regions Fund.

The $641.6 million BBRF supports the Australian Government's commitment to create jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities into the future.


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