BALLINA ELECTORATE ACHIEVEMENTS
Mr DONALD PAGE
(Ballina—Deputy Leader of The Nationals) [5.00 p.m.]: I take this opportunity to congratulate a number of Ballina electorate individuals, organisations and businesses that have recently received awards or been recognised for their achievements. During the parliamentary winter recess I had the pleasure of attending the Ballina Shire Business Excellence Awards at the Ballina RSL Club. More than 100 local businesses had been nominated for a range of awards, including best trades and services, community services, industry, tourism, food and beverage, retail, customer service and professional services. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the local business community and the high standards of the businesses nominated.
I would particularly like to mention Geolink and Northern Rivers Surgical Supplies, which tied for the award Business of the Year. A number of local individuals and organisations have been successful on the sporting field. Several local people were recently awarded grants under the 2005 New South Wales Country Athletes Scheme. These included Benjamin Coridas and Damien Buckley, representatives in junior rugby union; Kate Johnson, a very successful local swimmer; and Tanyn Lyndon, for his participation in Surf Life Saving New South Wales.
In other sporting achievements, local residents Ben Purnell and Brad Corbett were selected to represent Australia at the World Tae Kwon Do Championships, whilst the Ballina Touch Football Association was the New South Wales Touch Association affiliate of the year. It is wonderful that so many local residents are achieving in their chosen sport and are winning awards, but also it is good to see young people out every weekend on local beaches, at swimming pools and on ovals taking part in sport and other physical activity.
One of the great sporting ambassadors is Petria Thomas from Mullumbimby. Petria has always shown great courage in the pool and this year released her autobiography Swimming Against the Tide
. She has been candid in her book about her struggle with self-confidence and the personal hurdles she has overcome to be one of Australia's best swimmers. She has set a wonderful example for the rest of the community and I wish her all the best in the future.
The Ballina electorate is also characterised by cultural achievements. Recently Fiona Prowse, a young footwear designer, was awarded the prestigious Churchill Memorial Trust Scholarship to study footwear design in Italy. I am sure we will hear a lot more about Fiona's achievements in the future. Two of the far North Coast's best chefs, Nathan Sherwood and Gerhard Spatz, of the Ballina RSL Club, have been recognised for their culinary skills. I have enjoyed their meals on a number of occasions and believe they are very deserving of the Clubs New South Wales chef's table gold medal award. I would also like to mention Ballina's theatre group, the Ballina Players, which this year celebrated its fiftieth successful year entertaining local residents. Last Saturday I attended the fiftieth anniversary of the Mullumbimby Ex-services Angling Club, which was a most enjoyable evening.
I turn now to community service achievements. I congratulate several people, including Keith Barry, Christopher Dewhirst, Anne Moehead, John Savage and Leslie and Doris Wilson, who all received recognition in the Queen's Birthday honours in June. I would also like to mention the young community achiever, Emma Baldrey from Ballina High School, who last week received the Minister for Education and Training Award for Excellence in Student Achievement for her representative work with local students. I have worked with Emma on the local youth council and believe she is truly deserving of the award.
During the parliamentary recess parts of the Ballina electorate and neighbouring Lismore experienced a devastating flood. Local areas such as Ocean Shores and Billinudgel were severely affected and the Pacific Highway was cut north and south of Ballina. I thank local emergency services, council employees and community members, who worked together to assist those most affected and ensured that the community remained safe until the flood subsided. In contrast to the recent events in New Orleans, there was a strong sense of community spirit and selflessness that emerged during the flood and many worked hard and beyond the call of duty to help during that period.
I should also like to mention that Bangalow resident Frank Scarabelotti turned 108 in August and is believed to be Australia's oldest man. Frank is in good health, regularly tends his garden, walks to the Bangalow shops and takes a keen interest in current affairs. He and his wife, Nell, are valued members of the Bangalow community and I congratulate him on his longevity and full life. There are many more achievers in the Ballina electorate, some who do so quietly, and I pass on my congratulations to all those who work hard to make our community a better place.