THE proposed Mossman Botanic Garden is one step closer to reality, receiving a funding commitment of $1.4 million to help get it off the ground, if a Coalition government is elected.
In recent weeks, Liberal National Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch MP attended a Mossman Botanic Garden committee presentation night and threw his whole hearted support behind the project.
The committee’s official target is $5 million and this support is a huge step in the right direction.
The garden is proposed to be the only botanic garden focused on publicly showcasing unique plants from Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage area.
The garden will feature a Wet Tropics arboretum, themed gardens, an interpretation centre, a research facility, entertainment areas, community facilities, and the Betty Hinton Art Centre.
Mr Entsch has been a key supporter throughout, helping the foundation committee join forces with the world-renowned local artist Betty Hinton to create a one-of-a-kind botanical art gallery within the grounds.
Mr Entsch said due to its uniqueness, it will also be a major tourism drawcard for the 100,000-plus visitors to the region to spend extended time and money in Mossman itself, and the benefits will extend far beyond Mossman to Cairns and Port Douglas.
‘‘There’s no arguing that this project will create a whole range of fresh opportunities for the area from greater economic investment and employment, to partnerships across the Wet Tropics region, to supporting Indigenous cultural knowledge and stories of rainforest ecosystems,’’ Mr Entsch said.
‘‘The proposal put to me was for development over a five-year period but the critical component at this stage was the acquisition of the land - and that’s exactly what we have facilitated.
‘‘The $1.4 million will enable the committee to buy the site in central Mossman, and the additional funds over and above the cost of purchasing the land means they can finalise plans and designs and start the Development Approvals process.
‘‘It also doesn’t prevent them from putting in funding applications through other sources, whether state, federal or local government, for the next stages of the project.’’
The announcement was made on Tuesday afternoon by Warren Entsch along with Scott Morrison MP.
MBG committee member Alan Carle said the committee was ecstatic to hear the news.
‘‘Warren Entsch has been a keen supporter of the project since 2010,’’ he said.
‘‘Of course, this pledge is conditional on the LNP winning the federal election. Other key regional civic and political leaders have also given their support.
‘‘The pledged $1.4m will be used to purchase the first property for the garden and for planning, design, fundraising and other requirements in 2014.’’