Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce
Wednesday 16 December 2020

All businesses would be looking forward to seeing more stable trading conditions and normality return for 2021 after the tribulations and tumultuous events of last year.  The forecasts are for much better economic conditions this year on the back of Australia’s GDP growing by 3.5% in late 2020.  Having performed better than almost every other OECD country Australia and especially its regional areas are now well positioned for a return to positive growth and full employment.

A business owners wish list to Council, NSW and the Morrison Government for 2021 would include the following key issues and policy areas that need to be addressed, resolved and acted upon.

Locally we are experiencing significant inbound migration and growth with strong property sales and almost zero rental accommodation available.  Many new businesses have recently commenced operations and existing businesses are expanding or moving into new markets.  The desirability of Port Macquarie as a lifestyle choice and place to start a business is creating growth that in turn is acerbating the need for upgraded and new infrastructure.

For businesses in Port Macquarie this means that the road network and services infrastructure backlog must be addressed and several large projects must be delivered by Council in the next few years.  The highest priorities being Ocean Drive duplication, Boundary Street Airport access, Lake Road duplication, John Oxley Drive upgrade and the new Sewerage Treatment Plant to service urban release areas at Thrumster.

With a strong uptake of existing zoned land occurring recently there is also a need for Council to move quickly on rezoning the new residential release area at Sancrox.  This will provide greater certainty of land supply over the medium term and allow planning for an expanded traffic network across the Pacific Highway.

The NSW Government has responsibility for the planned upgrade of the Oxley Highway corridor from Lake Road to Billabong Drive which must be its highest priority road project in our area.  This includes Wrights Road roundabout which is the Base Hospital access and interchange for all Gateway traffic.  Business and industry groups are keen to see TfNSW complete the planning for this corridor and urgently commence upgrading its congested intersections.

The state government has performed well to manage the impact of COVID during 2020 but now has the challenge of implementing proposed reforms for stamp duty and land tax.  This could and should extend to an abolition of payroll tax to better incentivise small and medium businesses to employ more people.  Along with these reforms business is constantly seeking the elimination of unnecessary costs, red tape and bureaucratic obstruction to business activity.

At the Federal level trade tensions with China remain of concern to exporters especially where tariffs or restrictions have been imposed with no justification or warning.  Those involved in exporting products to China expect the Morrison Government to continue efforts to restore previous trade conditions.  A general realisation that we need a local manufacturing sector post COVID also provides a lead for the Morrison Government to support this sector.  Key to that is practical Industrial Relations legislation and an energy policy that delivers affordable reliable power supply to industry.

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