Thursday, 23 August 2018
It's not uncommon to hear members in this place reflect on the value of small businesses in our community. Whether it's the local butcher, the corner shop or a strawberry farm, they all contribute in wide-ranging ways to the fabric of our community. As a small business owner for 30 years, I know from personal experience what a hard slog it can be, but the rewards, more often than not, make it worth it.
In my role as the member for Fisher I make it a priority to regularly visit small and family business operators, to keep connected and engaged with the current business climate. While in Caloundra recently, I caught up with Tony Swain, from Swain Family Meats, a great local butcher offering excellent service and quality meat. Tony and his team of butchers have become an institution in the Little Mountain area, with many families dropping in after work to purchase what they need to rustle up the family dinner. Tony even sells the award-winning Maleny Dairies milk—so many of his customers drop by to get their supply. I also recently stopped in and had breakfast at CK Wholefoods in Mooloolaba, where I was able to chat to its owner, Martin, about his current growth and future plans.
The winter break also afforded me the opportunity to get out and about in the sensational Sunshine Coast hinterland, where I spent some time with Rick Twist from Twist Brothers Strawberry Farm. If I'm talking about institutions on the Sunshine Coast, Twist Brothers Strawberry Farm is certainly up there with the best of them. My wife and I used to take our kids to the Twist strawberry farm when they were little, and this was a great trip down memory lane. During my chat with Rick, he explained how he was in the process of looking at ways to diversify his current business model and offered many helpful suggestions on how the government could look at introducing measures to stimulate positive changes and growth in the business community.
Gourmet Garden is yet another shining star in the business community on the Sunshine Coast. I spent some time meeting their executive team and touring their Palmwoods factory recently, where I just about froze to death in their cool room. I don't know why they call it a cool room; it should be called a 'very cold room'.
A division having been called in the House of Representatives—
Sitting suspended from 10:11 to 10:25
It was great to spend time with Felipe and the team and get a greater understanding of their business journey to extend the natural shelf life of fresh herbs and spices. This innovative company, Gourmet Garden, are doing great things and are looking at expanding their products and exporting more widely in the future.
Many people choose to move to the Sunshine Coast searching for a better lifestyle for their families. Our combination of hinterland and beaches makes this a spectacular place to live, work and retire. So is it any wonder that we have such a thriving and diverse small-business community? In fact, Bernard Salt, the famous demographer, described the Sunshine Coast as the small-business capital of the country, and who could disagree with him? The Sunshine Coast is going great guns at the moment. My mission as the local member is to make Fisher the place to be for education, employment and retirement. By doing that, we will make the Sunshine Coast a fantastic place to live.