Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:49): This week a group of music enthusiasts gathered in Wollongong for the second annual State of the Music Scene Forum. It was organised by a friend and colleague of mine, Mr Rob Carr. Like many ageing rock fans, I have mourned the closure of many venues where I spent my youth watching live music and seeing mates kick-start their careers in music and entertainment—great local bands like the Unheard, Man Bites Dog and Tumbleweed. Visiting Australian rock bands like the Divinyls, the Oils and Cold Chisel was an important cultural part of growing up in the Illawarra.
I am a firm believer that a vibrant live music scene has the potential to transform the Illawarra region, which needs to attract knowledge-based workers and retain its young people when they finish school or university. It is quite simple: we need to provide quality entertainment options for our residents when they are not working or studying, or otherwise they will not stick around.
It is great to see that there are other people in the region who share this passion and who have started up a number of small venues for emerging artists. However, I feel that more needs to be done. I offer my support to those who are getting behind the State of the Music Scene Forum in the Illawarra to ensure we can create more venues for more live bands and more live music in the Illawarra. It is not only great for entertainment but good for the local economy too. These people have my wholehearted support.