THE VISION is now set to become a reality.
Stage one of the Ipswich Show Society's long planned convention and exhibition centre will be funded after One Nation leader Pauline Hanson handed over a cheque for $8.9 million to the show society.
The funds have come from Treasury after Ms Hanson lobbied the Federal Government on behalf of the Ipswich Show Society's project.
The project has bi-partisan support with Senator Fiona Nash and Blair MP Shayne Neumann also backing it, but Ipswich Show Society vice-president Darren Zanow said Senator Hanson was "first past the post" with funds.
The $8.9 million will fund all of stage one of the three-stage project which includes car parks and all the drainage, earth works and preparatory works that are needed to go in before the construction of the convention and exhibition centre.
Work is set to start after next year's annual show in May.
The building will also double as a flood evacuation centre and will be a Godsend for Ipswich in times of emergency and natural disasters.
Senator Hanson said Mr Zanow presented the project to her at her campaign office and she was determined to follow through.
"I then presented it to (Finance Minister) Mathias Cormann and they have come forward with the cheque from the Federal Government," she said.
"The show society has been trying for this for four years and it is a good project.
"I am trying to cut back on the budget and I am watching every dollar, but Ipswich needs this.
"There are 200,000 people here and it is on the cusp of further growth, so it is important we grow with it.
"Ipswich goes through floods often and there is nowhere for people to go at the moment. This centre will draw people here for their conventions and the showgrounds are looking tired and need an upgrade, so overall it is very important to the city.
"On top of that it will create jobs in the building of it and Ipswich needs that boost.
"Ipswich has been very good to me over the past 30 years and I am really thrilled to be able to do this."
Mr Zanow said the funds would "definitely start the project" once the planning was completed and approvals were in place.
"The Show Society has funds we have already put in and more funds we will inject in the future," he said.
"The second stage is the convention and exhibition centre building itself at a cost of $48 million and then it will be $10.8 million for the last stage, which is the integration and refurbishment of all the facilities in the showgrounds.
Mr Zanow said "the money from Pauline Hanson is critical".
"This starts everything," he said.
"I canvassed every politician who had anything to do with our area and gave them all the same amount of information.
"Pauline kept ringing me back asking for more information and more in-depth detail and took a real interest.
"She then said she would get the money for the project and got it from Treasury and was the first past the post with the money, via Senator Nash's office."
Mr Zanow said he was confident the Ipswich council and State Government would also provide funding if they followed through with actions based on their words of support to him.
Ipswich Show Society president Rusty Thomas said the $8.9 million injection was "absolutely brilliant".
"There has been a lot of work along the way and Darren has done most of it, and this project will benefit the people of Ipswich and West Moreton as a whole."
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