Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce
Tuesday 4 May 2021

The 2021 Coastline Credit Union Greater Port Macquarie Business Awards will celebrate the remarkable resilience and tenacity of our local business community.  Recent bushfires, COVID19 and major floods have impacted nearly every business in our community yet despite this they have continued to operate, reinvented themselves, survived, revived and even thrived over the past 18 months.

There are many local resilience and success stories to be celebrated that typify the response to everyday challenges faced by entrepreneurs.  Their stories and achievements will be recognised and celebrated at the Business Awards Gala Event to be held on 31st July 2021 at Panthers Auditorium.  Entries are now open via the Port Macquarie Chamber website:  www.portchamber.com.au

The national economic scorecard shows that our economy has bounced back very well recording at least 3% growth over the past two quarters.  In the most recent figures unemployment has fallen to 5.6% which is at the pre-covid levels.  At the same time workforce participation rates have risen to 66.3% and job vacancies increased by 13.7% both indicating a strong economic recovery.   A recent ANZ Business Survey also showed above average confidence levels in business investment and trading conditions even after the end of the Job Keeper Scheme.

This result is due to a combination of private sector resilience and good stewardship by both the Morrison Federal Government & NSW Government to simultaneously manage the health risks and the economic impacts of COVID19.  Australia has out performed every other nation on both fronts and has emerged in an enviable position in terms of health outcomes and economic strength.

The downside of this success appears to be a tight labour market and shortage of skilled trades and professionals in our area to service the high demand.  One measure towards addressing this in the long term is the Federal Government announcement to spend $1.2bn supporting up to 100,000 trade apprenticeships.   Under the scheme employers will be eligible for 50 per cent of the wages for a new or recommencing apprentice or trainee for the period up to 30 September 2021, up to $7000 per quarter.

Business should also welcome a recent announcement by the Federal Government to invest $120m in compliance deregulation targeting duplication in reporting and unnecessary red tape.  It is estimated that this measure could assist many businesses in commercial fishing, manufacturing, health and education sectors collectively save up to $430m per year.

A similar program by the NSW Government would be welcomed in regional areas such as Port Macquarie where we continue to suffer from city centric over-regulation.  Recent centralisation of all council applications through a state government digital portal is the latest example adding to housing and construction industry overheads.  This portal is adding another step to an already complex application and approval process separating industry “customers” from their local council officers.

The correct decision has been made by the Morrison Government in vetoing the Victorian State Government Belt & Roads Agreement with China.  This is a much needed step in the right direction towards protecting our national interests and sovereignty from future interference or influence by foreign powers.  As many commentators have suggested the next step should be to fully regain control of Darwins’ East Arm Wharf by rescinding a controversial 99 year lease on that very strategic piece of national infrastructure.

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