House debates

Monday, 22 February 2010

Statements by Members

Corio Electorate: Building the Education Revolution Program

4:28 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

In my electorate there is a business called Ezyshades Australia. It is a Geelong based business that builds shade structures and awnings for both commercial and domestic use. The business started 10 years ago and by early 2009 was well established in Gregory Avenue, Newtown, and providing jobs for six people. But by then the global financial crisis had sapped consumer confidence. Businesses stopped spending and for Ezyshades the situation became desperate. Managing Director Sam Melia said that by April last year the phones had stopped ringing. The business went from receiving dozens of inquiries a day to just one or two. Mr Melia said that they could see that the business was in real trouble and they were looking at laying off staff. And then, around that time, the Rudd government’s economic stimulus package started to have an effect. It started to turn things around for Ezyshades—in particular, the spending in schools announced in Building the Education Revolution.

In my electorate of Corio, more than $102 million has been committed to school improvements through the BER funding. More than 60 building projects are underway, are about to be started or have almost finished. Building the Education Revolution funding gave many schools the means to create sun smart playground areas—shady, cool play spaces that keep children active but out of the midday sun. For Ezyshades it was the money spent on playground upgrades that made the difference. There was immediate demand for shade structures for schoolyards across Geelong, south-west Victoria and Melbourne. This has kept Ezyshades in work for the past nine months. It has provided a steady stream of work while confidence has returned to other sectors of the economy. It has safeguarded the jobs of six employees and created work for additional casual employees. Quite simply, Mr Melia says that the stimulus strategy saved his business—no question. He says, ‘Without the stimulus strategy, Ezyshades would not be operating today.’

In the midst of the malarky spread by the opposition, they would have us believe the stimulus spending was a wasteful exercise, but here is a clear example of how it has successfully saved and created regional jobs, not just the six or so jobs at this company. There are other spin-offs to consider, such as the suppliers, the engineering work and the specialist trades. Ezyshades has also been supplying awnings to a Bendigo business that has been installing shade structures in playgrounds in that city. This is just one example but it is not a one-off. Every electorate across Australia would have stories such as this.

This is an example of how federal government investment in infrastructure has given small businesses a boost when they needed it most. Small businesses are the engine room of the Australian economy. This is a great example of government policy keeping that engine turning and, in this case, just in the nick of time.