The Boorowa Business Chamber (BBC) were exceptionally fortunate to have our own Councillor and Goulburn MP, Wendy Tuckerman bring a very special visitor to our recent public meeting, Damien Tudehope, the NSW Minister of Finance and Minister for Small Business.
The good crowd that attended the meeting represented Boorowa, Rye Park, Rugby, Frogmore and Reids Flat.
In general, The Hon. Damien Tudehope spoke on the following small business initiatives:
- $300 million in workers compensation insurance premium discounts over three years for 280,000 employers, delivering an average discount of 8 per cent, and maximum of 12.5 per cent, for employers with the safest workplaces.
- Ensuring 760,000 small businesses can utilise the NSW Government's popular Energy Switch program and potentially save thousands off their bill.
- Continuing to lift the payroll tax threshold progressively up to $1 million in 2021-22, with about 38,000 businesses saving up to $8,175 off their tax bill in 2019-20.
- Giving small businesses and tradies a head start in procurement by requiring NSW Government agencies to consider small business suppliers for everything they buy.
- Funding to support the work of the NSW Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat. The Commission's work program for 2019-20 will continue to look for opportunities to cut red tape and reduce costs to small businesses.
There were many interesting questions raised from the floor, most were effectively answered by the Minister.
Those questions that were outside his portfolio were noted and his assistant Benedict Kang will report back to the BBC after the answers are provided from the correct source in government.
The Hon. Damien Tudehope complimented the BBC on its representation and applauded business owners coming together in joining the BBC to make their business' stronger and work toward benefiting the community.
He encouraged all to join if they had not already done so.
The biggest issue to surface on the night was the poorly announced loading restrictions put in place on 16 of our surrounding bridges by Hilltops Council.
These bridge loading restrictions cause disastrous financial consequences to our local farmers in not being able to receive on property nor send full truck loads of stock or produce from their farms.
This at a time where the economy and drought conditions are placing pressure on the local community.
The council have intimated that there is funding in place to deal with these repairs, however if we take the Wambanumba Creek Bridge on the Murringo Road as an example, restrictions were put in place and the side track detour opened on October 3, 2018 after the discovery of defects.
It was announced on January 16, 2019 that Hilltops Council will receive $1.2 million from the state government, "this is a great start toward funding the replacement of the bridge" Mayor Brian Ingram said.
In March, MP Steph Cooke and Mayor Ingram both appeared to congratulate themselves and council staff for successfully pulling into the Hilltops region approximately $14 Million dollars under the NSW Government's Fixing Country Roads Program.
Hilltops Council have intimated that Wambanumba bridge, including four others are due for correction and completion at the end of 2020.
The Wambanumba bridge has for almost one year had restrictions and a detour in place.
The question begs: will similar detours be put in place where possible for the supposed 16 failed bridges and what timeframe for funding the works and replacement?
Has a strategy been put in place to get enough bridges back into action to reduce pressure on our community?
It is also most unfortunate and certainly of no credit to Hilltops Council that these loading restrictions have been put in place on the 16 bridges without consultation to local farmers, nor without any thought of assistance to farmers for the significant costs they now face.
We have on good word that just one truck re-routed added $600 to the farmer's delivery bill.