MAJOR BOOST: Kevin Hogan made five significant funding announcements in Lismore yesterday.
MAJOR BOOST: Kevin Hogan made five significant funding announcements in Lismore yesterday. Cathy Adams

Ho-Ho-Hogan delivers: Christmas comes early for projects

CHRISTMAS has come early on the Northern Rivers with Page MP Kevin Hogan announcing $12.6 million in Federal funding to be dropped in the stockings of five long-awaited projects.

Ticking off the Christmas wish list was $3.5m for the redevelopment of Casino's Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange, $850,000 for the completion of the new Ballina Marine Rescue Tower, $2.85m to construct the Lismore Quadrangle and $4.15m to improve sugar freight and logistics at Harwood Mill and Refinery.

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said the Lismore Quadrangle had been on the council's Christmas wish list for more than 10 years.

"(I'm) over the moon," she said. "This is so long awaited.

"We know from visitation in other galleries, that when you have a really good facility and can offer people fantastic exhibitions people will travel great distances to come and see it."

The Quadrangle will see the Lismore Regional Gallery relocated next to the Conservatorium and library, with an outdoor piazza, workshop spaces and meeting rooms.

Cr Dowell said design plans from local firm Dominic Finlay Jones Architects had already been approved by council, priced and were "ready to go".

Richmond Valley Mayor Ernie Bennett said the Casino Saleyard grant would help pull the sleigh of economic growth by increasing its capacity 40% - the equivalent of moving an extra 50,000 head of cattle through per year.

"Just the value of the cattle that could come through in that process would have a value in excess of $50m a year," he said.

Cr Bennett said the grant had the potential to create up to 220 extra jobs and secure existing jobs in the saleyard, abattoir and associated cattle industries.

The funding announcement was a sweet relief for Sunshine Sugar chairman Ian Causley who said the $4.15m would be used to build a new logistics warehouse, increase storage and relocate the packing facility.

He said the efficiencies created by the funding would go a long way to protect existing jobs and even create new ones in an industry that was under pressure from foreign-owned competitors.

Ballina Mayor David Wright said the $850,000 grant would cement the completion of the new Ballina Marine Rescue tower without needing to cut equipment due to lack of funding.

He said it was a welcome relief for volunteers who had been working out of a make-shift building "the size of a large toilet".

Cr Wright said the new tower would boost tourism and the commercial fishing industry by providing a safe passage across the bar in conjunction with dredging.

Mr Hogan also announced $1.2m for the Toonumbar Dam project which will see 7.5km of gravel road to the dam sealed to help boost tourism to the Kyogle region.

"Christmas has come early for our community," he said.

"These projects are game-changers and will create more jobs for local people and bring more money into our region for years to come."



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