The Christmas season is upon us and with that the business community will no doubt reflect on 2019 as an eventful and sometimes tumultuous year.
The NSW state election was held in March with the Berejiklian Coalition Government returned to office promising a big infrastructure spending agenda. In May at the Federal level the Morrison Coalition Government was also returned against all previous poll predictions and to the surprise of many commentators.
The promised immediate income tax cuts from the Morrison Government were closely followed by two interest rate cuts by the RBA. However, the second half of 2019 saw little change as a result of this stimulus and the domestic economy continued to record lower than predicted growth. In particular retail sales growth has remained flat at best. On this front local retailers would be hoping for a boost from upcoming Christmas sales.
Most recently and in response to below forecast economic activity the Federal Government has announced infrastructure spending of nearly $4Bn, much of it in NSW will be brought forward. Although a big proportion of this will be large metropolitan projects the broader economy and regional areas like ours should experience flow on benefits to local businesses.
The worst drought in history has persisted and expanded its grip across much of eastern Australia. Recent reports indicate a drop in Australia’s farm output of nearly 10% as a result of this ongoing natural disaster. In response the NSW Government t via Water NSW has announced a massive portfolio of new water infrastructure projects valued at $10Bn to be undertaken over the next 5 years. Two of the largest water infrastructure projects are Glengowan Dam near Tamworth and Mole Creek Dam North of Tenterfield.
In our area we’ve had the recent bushfires which have caused widespread devastation in the Macleay, Hastings & Manning valleys and beyond. Rural and residential areas alike were threatened by the worst bush fires in several decades. Dry, windy conditions and persistent smoke haze have been ongoing for many weeks as many fires continue to burn in inaccessible forest areas and National Parks.
Only the heroic actions of the fire fighters and many volunteers saved significant loss of life and property. On behalf of the entire community Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce wishes to express sincere gratitude to the RFS, SES, Council, all emergency services workers and the many volunteers for their efforts in fighting these widespread bushfires.
Despite these recent challenges the agricultural sector and business community in general continues to invest in and have confidence in the Port Macquarie region. General business confidence has risen slightly in Wholesale Trade, Agriculture, Finance & Professional Services and Construction compared to past years. At the same time the region continues to record stronger than average employment growth.
As the Christmas and holiday period approaches we can reflect on the recent challenges met and handled stoically along with the opportunities that a New Year brings and the good fortune we share to live in this area. The Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce wishes all its members and the local community a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.