Mayor Andrew Willcox with Councillor John Collins outside the Proserpine Entertainment Centre.
Mayor Andrew Willcox with Councillor John Collins outside the Proserpine Entertainment Centre.

Proserpine's centre of attention

IT is two years to the day that Tropical Cyclone Debbie put the beloved Proserpine Entertainment Centre out of action.

The State Government has today announced that it has committed $5.225 million in funding for the long-awaited rebuild of the centre.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the funding was in addition to the $500,000 announced in May last year for the facility.

"A revitalised entertainment centre in Proserpine will bring economic, social, and cultural benefits to the whole of the Whitsundays,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The Whitsunday Regional Council received an insurance payout of $1.4 million after Debbie, as well as the aforementioned $500,000 in funding from the State Government.

As work started on the Proserpine Entertainment Centre, council discovered the building had several serious structural defects that had nothing to do with cyclone damage, resulting in the building not being compliant with current building laws and regulations.

It was identified that it would cost about $10 million to rebuild the centre, and council have been lobbying hard since October to secure the funding.

The Proserpine Entertainment Centre is still in a state of disrepair.
Enough funding has been secured to rebuild the Proserpine Entertainment Centre. Peter Carruthers

The State Government funding, combined with the Federal Government funding commitment of $5 million, will be enough to rebuild the centre, described as "the heart and soul of Proserpine.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the WRC had identified the PEC rebuild as a 'priority project' that would be paramount in the region's ongoing recovery.

"This funding will go a long way to rebuilding the centre and will ensure council can complete demolition of the old building and rebuild a bigger, better and more resilient Proserpine Entertainment Centre,” she said.

Mayor Andrew Willcox said he was very happy with the State Government's commitment and that a lot of work had gone on behind the scenes to secure the funding.

He said Deputy Mayor John Collins had been lobbying hard with him every step of the way, and his team of councillors and council officers had also been working hard behind the scenes.

"I'm bloody chuffed to be honest,” he said.

The new centre will boast a larger auditorium, with state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment, and importantly, comply with all modern safety and building codes, making it more resilient to future natural disasters.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said infrastructure projects such as the PEC were an important part of restoring community life following natural disasters.

"Investment in projects such as this increases employment, improves the resilience of our regions, and has a positive impact on local economies and the overall health, safety and well-being of the community,” he said.

Ms Palaszczuk said Queenslanders had a remarkable ability to recover from even the biggest disasters, and since Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the state has faced 16 natural disasters.