House debates

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Constituency Statements

Hume Electorate: Wollondilly Shire

10:01 am

Photo of Alby SchultzAlby Schultz (Hume, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the issue of small business confidence in the electorate of Hume and in particular the Wollondilly Shire. The Wollondilly Shire is a growing region of the electorate I represent. Of the 98,000 constituents I represent, nearly a quarter reside in the Wollondilly Shire. The region has every possible advantage for continued investment. It is located at the edge of the Sydney basin and is only 30 minutes away from Port Kembla. It can also boast the advantage of having both the Hume Highway and the Sydney to Melbourne southern railway running directly through it. Despite these advantages, small businesses and townships such as Picton are still struggling. Driving through Argyle Street in Picton and seeing the empty shops and 'for lease' signs gives a stark illustration of how small business in this country is struggling under this government and this economic climate.

If the government introduces a carbon tax, even under their own example of assistance for small business, a cash-strapped cafe owner would need to find $6,000 for some new equipment to receive a one-off earlier tax benefit of $1,800. Any additional one-off tax benefit will not relieve the ongoing and unavoidable increased operating costs due to escalating energy costs under the carbon tax, particularly electricity prices.

I congratulate the Wollondilly Shire Council and Mayor, Councillor Michael Banasik, as well as the new state Liberal MP, Jai Rowell, for convening a strengthening local business forum last month, with participants from the Wollondilly Economic Development Advisory Group, the Macarthur Business Enterprise Centre and the shire's six chambers of commerce—Picton, Appin, Menangle, Bargo, Tahmoor and The Oaks—to talk about issues affecting businesses and how to overcome them. Reports from this meeting are encouraging and are an illustration of how local communities are uniting to develop solutions to overcome the issues.

Before entering politics, my wife, Gloria, ran a nursery and gift shop business in Cootamundra. We both understand the sacrifices that small business owners make on a daily basis. There are rarely holidays, good staff are hard to find, you do arduous hours of unpaid overtime and then there is always the paperwork and the government red tape. At every opportunity government needs to get out of the way of small business and certainly does not need to introduce a new carbon tax.