Grievance Debate - Chaffey

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:41): I would like to speak about some of the achievements that people in the electorate of Chaffey were a part of over the weekend. 

It was great to be down at Clare for the South Australian Country Press Awards, where the guest speaker was the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack. As a previous newspaper journalist or editor, he gave great insights into what it was like to work at country newspapers.  

There was even better news in that The Murray Pioneer, the local Riverland newspaper, headed up the Taylor Group of Newspapers, was awarded the best newspaper for 2020 with a circulation of over 4,000. Congratulations to both Jane and Paul, the editors at the newspaper, on a huge achievement and honour for the Pioneer team. As we know, local newspapers play a vital role in the fabric of country communities—giving them the news, giving them the information—and it was just a great night.  

On the way home from Clare, I attended another great achievement when I called into Morgan to celebrate 40 years of Meals on Wheals. It was a great achievement by a group of volunteers who go above and beyond. We know that Morgan is a small Riverland community. The volunteers go to the Cadell Training Centre to gather their food for the deliveries. That band of volunteers delivers those meals not just up a street: they have to travel significant distances to drop off those meals.  

Through these uncertain times during COVID-19, they have done an outstanding job, not only delivering the meals but also stopping for conversation and to check on people to make sure that they are alright. I think it is just an outstanding service that they provide, so I commend and congratulate all those people. As I said, Meals on Wheels was celebrating its 40-year anniversary.  

I then ventured up to Loxton, first of all to celebrate the Loxton Mardi Gras. Many people say to me, 'Well, Mardi Gras at Loxton.' It is not the Mardi Gras that many people would relate to as in the Sydney Mardi Gras. The Loxton Mardi Gras is an event, a street parade, that has been held over a number of years.  

We celebrated 64 Mardi Gras on the weekend, and it is a festival to raise money for community projects. The definition of Mardi Gras is that Mardi means Tuesday and Gras means grand. The event had around 60 floats, and it was fantastic fun to see the COVID-19 compliant event. It was held at the No. 2 oval. We could not do the street parade, but everyone came out. The Loxton community rallied together, the Riverland community came to watch, and it really was a significant event.  

The original Mardi Gras, back 64 Mardi Gras ago, was to raise money for the town pool. The Harry Tickle Memorial Swimming Pool is still standing the test of time. It is there in its grand stature, and it just shows that this Mardi Gras event is there for a great reason and a great community purpose. Since its inception, it has raised over $1 million for the community.  

This year, Rosy McConnell was crowned the 2021 Community Ambassador and 2021 Charity Ambassador. Sally Wendland was named the 2021 Mardi Gras Senior Ambassador. Trinny Nitschke was named the 2021 Loxton Mardi Gras Junior Ambassador representative. It was great to see these young junior ambassadors getting around. There are eight of them—actually seven of them, as one of them was a representative from last year—and they get around the community, raising money together in a group, selling raffle tickets. They have now made lifelong friends, as they told me. It is just a great experience for them to be community minded and to be there for great community spirit.  

Also, I would like to commend the committee. As I made my presentation there on Saturday, it was great to acknowledge Peter and Carla Magarey—Peter and Carla have been great historians in Loxton, so congratulations to them—Chris and Sandy Sheahan, Liz Dymmott and Nola Schulz.  

I would also like to congratulate the winners of Nippy's Loxton Gift, a great athletics event. The Nippy's Loxton Gift is the second biggest running event in the state. Deng Bulabek was the men's winner; Mikayla Round was the women's winner and Dylan Boyce was the junior winner. Dylan was an outstanding talent, and I am sure that he will be one of these athletics talents for the future. It was a great weekend, the Riverland celebrated, and they were proud of their achievements. It is just a great acknowledgement of community spirit in the Riverland. 

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