Mr STONER (Oxley) [5.52 p.m.]: I draw the attention of the House to an outstanding event which was held last night in Kempsey. I refer to a concert starring Slim Dusty that was held at the Kempsey-Macleay Returned Services League [RSL] Club, which is situated in the heart of Kempsey on the banks of the beautiful Macleay River. Any aficionado of country music would know that without doubt Slim Dusty is one of Australia's—and indeed, one of the world's—greatest country music artists and that for over more than 50 years Slim has had a succession of hits. Among his huge hits are The Pub with No Beer, which refers to a well-known hotel at Taylor's Arm in my electorate; When the Rain Tumbles Down in July, which refers to the massive floods in Kempsey in 1949; and, of course, I Love to have a Beer with Duncan, which does not refer to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the upper House—although it probably could, because "Duncan's me mate"!
I wonder whether honourable members know that Slim Dusty was born on the Macleay River just west of Kempsey, and that members of his family still live in the Macleay district. Slim Dusty and his wife, Joy McKean, and the local community have been pursuing the construction of a Slim Dusty Country Music Museum to be located at Kempsey. Such a museum would be a huge boost to the local tourism industry and would create employment in the district. I have no doubt that country music fans from throughout Australia—and, indeed, the world—would make a point of visiting Kempsey to see the museum, which will be filled with memorabilia including gold records, outfits, photographs and much more that will be donated by Slim and Joy.
Regrettably, the cost of building the proposed museum has proven to be a major hurdle. To this end, Kempsey Shire Council and the Macleay Valley Economic Development Trust have arranged local funding, organised fundraising events—including last night's concert—and sought my assistance in approaching the State Government for funding. In fact, the Kempsey Mayor, Peter Mainey, and his lovely wife, Clare, and I recently met the Minister for Small Business, and Minister for Tourism for discussions. The Minister has kindly undertaken to examine forms of assistance that may be available for the project. In the meantime, the local community, led by Howard Kerr and Kathryn Yarnold from the Macleay Valley Economic Development Trust, has proceeded with its fundraising efforts. Last night's concert, in which Slim performed for no charge, was an outstanding success. Today I received a facsimile from the Macleay Valley Economic Development Trust which states:
Andrew, the purpose of this note is to let you know we had a tremendous sold out night in Kempsey with Slim, Family and band! …It was a real "homecoming" for Slim (to quote a band member), and he spent most of the night on the stage, instead of the usual few brackets and off.
Forms were distributed for giving, including such options as inscribed pavers. Over $10,000 was made net from ticket sales, plus gifts, and in all it was amost auspicious beginning to the museum.
We look forward to seeing you here in the future re the project; as no doubt we will;
Howard R. Kerr Kathryn Yarnold
I take this opportunity to convey my congratulations to Slim Dusty and his wife, Joy McKean; to his team of musicians and road crew; to the Kempsey Shire Council; to the Macleay Valley Economic Development Trust; to the Kempsey-Macleay RSL Club; and to all those who attended the concert last night on their contribution to this much-needed tourism facility. I also take this opportunity to encourage the Government to do all that it can to help the local community to establish a country music museum, which has the potential to attract huge numbers of tourists to the Kempsey area. The Kempsey Shire Council is pursuing with the Department of Land and Water Conservation an issue related to the transfer of Crown land and, as a member of the delegation which met with the Minister for Small Business, and Minister for Tourism, I would be grateful for any assistance that could be provided to further the council's endeavours and supplement the efforts of the local community, which strongly supports the country music industry and the tourism industry in the beautiful town of Kempsey.