Member of Parliament for Riverstone Kevin Conolly was gracious enough to grant an interview about what is currently going on at the Philippine Australian Cultural Centre (PACC), which is better known as the Filipino Multi-Purpose Centre (MPC). The interview was conducted by Philippine Sentinel inside his office in Stanhope on the 18th of July 2012.
Philippine Sentinel: What is your initial reaction about the Schofields location of PACC?
Conolly: The bulk of the property is low. The only available part of the property that can be developed is that corner which is higher than the rest. The proposal that has been discussed with me is a proposal for a two storey building. The underground area would not be inhabitable. That’s a matter between the applicant and the council. That’s what has been described to me and I take it on trust that they would be able to work out a solution.
Philippine Sentinel: In the event that Blacktown Council approves the construction of the proposed covered area, they surely would have to pay a high premium on public liability insurance, Wouldn’t they?
Conolly: No. The proposal is only to construct a covered outdoor area. A different standard obviously applies to that. It’s not the same as an inhabitable building. It’s essentially providing a concrete floor area with roof over it and no walls. It’s not something that is susceptible to much damage.
They would have to pay public liability insurance for the use of the site, generally. That would probably apply right now. It probably would not be altered in any way by construction of any outdoor area. I don’t think that particular aspect has changed. If you hold functions of the kind that a community group does,
Philippine Sentinel: We have a copy of a letter signed by the Flood Plains Officer of Blacktown Council stating that the area still sits in a high risk flood zone.
Conolly: They have to pass various hurdles and they have to meet council’s requirements. A lot of those I imagine will involve building any inhabitable areas at a suitable time.
Philippine Sentinel: Do you think the MPC project is feasible?
Conolly: I am not from Blacktown Council and I will not be the one assessing the application but I think it is [feasible] as far as I can see. I think it will be possible to construct a building on that site if it will meet the relevant requirements. It will mean at floor level, above the flood plain level.
I will work with the Filipino community whoever leads it whoever takes a leadership role at any given time because I support the Filipino community in my electorate [of Riverstone]. It doesn’t depend on individuals. The community deserves the respect and support of government
The government is investing in Richmond Road, in Schofields Road, in Northwest Rail Link, in schools in the area, in sewerage lines to allow development to occur. We want to make things happen here that will benefit the whole community and if in doing that I will be able to help the Filipino Community, the Sri Lancan community, the Indian community , to have better outcomes for people, I’ll just be too happy to do that.
(The interview had to be cut short because of another appointment earlier made by the Member of Parliament.)