$2 million boost for civic centre

THE Somerset Region will receive a significant addition to local infrastructure with Federal Government funding of $2 million to build the $4.4 million Somerset Civic Centre.

Federal Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean today announced funding for the building had been provided to Somerset Regional Council as part of the first round of the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF), worth almost $1 billion.

"The project will provide a 350-seat capacity civic centre which will include an auditorium with stage, backstage areas and dressing rooms, together with a multifunction room and amenities," Mr Crean said.

"The centre will also provide further options for a disaster coordination centre and community evacuation centre in the Esk area."

Federal Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann, said the project would provide a great boost for the community in what had been a difficult year.

"Out of the fire of the Lyceum Hall over a year ago, and through this past summer of floods, will come a new facility to service the entire Somerset Region and beyond," Mr Neumann said.

"The Federal Government appreciates how important regional centres are and in particular the importance of continuing to invest in areas such as the Somerset Region following so many tragedies.

"The Somerset Civic Centre is just one of 35 projects to receive funding out of 553 applications across Australia for this round.

"This is a significant announcement for our community and demonstrates what can be achieved when all of us pull together for a common purpose."

The project is due for completion in late 2012 and is endorsed by Regional Development Australia (RDA) Ipswich and West Moreton.

"Somerset's location close to Brisbane and Ipswich combined with its natural attractions ensures its potential for growth," Mr Neumann said.

"The new centre will enhance the liveability of the region and help to attract new residents and business investment to the region.

"It will also form part of a network of existing civic centres located across the wider Brisbane Hinterland area.

"The attention to space devoted to disaster coordination will ensure the region is better prepared for natural disasters such as last summer, he said.

The RDAF program supports the infrastructure needs and economic growth of Australia's regions.

It is designed to leverage state, commonwealth, local government, private and not-for-profit investments.

In Round One, $150 million in grant funding has been provided to 35 projects around Australia leveraging a total of around $418 million in project costs. 

RDA committees played a major role in working with local communities to identify projects that were consistent with their regional plans.

The Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel Christian Zahra will assist with a review of RDAF Round One and provide recommendations to the Minister to consider implementing for Round Two and subsequent rounds of the program.

This review will consider ways in which the impact of the program might be strengthened and the application process streamlined.

Round Two of the RDAF program will be valued at $150 million, with applications to open in November this year. 

A full list of the successful projects is available at:

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