As both a Queenslander and a mad league fan, it was a huge honour to open the Mackay Stadium on Saturday night, which the Gillard Government helped deliver with an investment of over $11 million.
In fact, it was a huge night for sport all-round in Mackay last Saturday with the Mackay Meteors also taking out the QBL basketball championship at Candlestick Park - the town was certainly abuzz.
Opening the footy stadium on Saturday reinforced to me just how powerful sport can be in bringing people together and helping to build up thriving communities like Mackay's.
Sport has long been a major part of regional Queensland's social fabric, which might explain regional Queensland's over-representation in the Origin team!
That proven record – not just in League, but in plenty of other sports – is something the people of Mackay and regional Queensland can be really proud of.
Apart from the obvious social contributions of sport to communities like Mackay, putting on my Treasurer's hat, sport also makes a big contribution to the economy.
It's something which doesn't get a lot of focus in the media, but which shouldn't be underestimated either.
Ultimately, I believe that a region can't reach its full economic potential without having a strong and energised local community. This is precisely what sport helps create.
In a region like Mackay having a great sporting life in the local community is really important for attracting the workers that are need to make the most of the mining boom.
In the Gillard Government we fully understand how important a thriving sporting life is to the local community and the local economy. That's why we've been investing so much into local community infrastructure projects, for sports facilities but also for other facilities.
Projects like the major redevelopment of Candlestick Park, $ 1 million to help relocate the Mackay Junior Soccer grounds, the Bowen Foreshore Water Park, the Airlie Beach Village Revitalisation and the list goes on.
We're making these vital investments because we know how important community infrastructure is for growing regions like yours.
And we know that a strong community with good infrastructure makes for a strong economy.