Q&A with Tweed Shire Council candidates: Business

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THIS WEEK features responses from Tweed Shire Council candidates talking small business opportunities and areas of improvement to assist small business across the Tweed Shire. As many readers would know the Tweed is considered one of the fastest growing shires in NSW and is also considered a significant growth area nationally. As part of this growth small business will be relied upon to provide employment, expand market opportunities and innovation in areas such as tourism and construction.

QUESTION: If elected, how do you plan to ensure small business can thrive and grow across the Tweed Shire? Further to this, could you please outline any specific areas you believe are primed for small business opportunities (ie. tourism, construction)? As an elected Councillor, how would you ensure small business is given every opportunity to grow?

Independent candidate Dion Andrews
Independent candidate Dion Andrews

“I have been saying for a long time now that we need a new, exciting and innovative industry in the Tweed that supports and works in harmony with its small businesses. I will support small business by finding low interest loans to improve accessibility for all ages, abilities and modes of assistance and will propose cheaper options for transport.

I will push for Council to create a step before Development Applications to define and understand plausibility of prospective new businesses and existing business extensions so that people at least know that their plans adhere to Council and Community ideals before entering the lengthy and costly process. I will recommend the focus of Council be to advise those in need of DA’s rather than treating the process like a fundraiser as the current Council has done by increasing the fees by 20%.

I believe sporting tourism is greatly underrepresented in our Shire.”

Group H lead candidate Pryce Allsop
Group H lead candidate Pryce Allsop

“Tourism and regular visitor offer biggest potential to increase business. Creating Events that draw tourism and spice things up. Accommodation is essential ingredient, benefits of employment. Attractions and tourists go hand in hand.  Tourist walks and lookouts and transport for the Tweed Valley. Council could pre determine sites and if rezoning is required be prepared to support in advance. Reduce chances of loosing parties interested in investing. Reducing wasted time in Council will lower council’s overheads. Create low cost attraction that keep people coming back and create community solutions for young and old alike

Reduce red tape, have special business unit that handles new business start up’s and examine concerns and problems.  Business are taking big risks starting up these days.  It would be great for a council business team to trace statistics of actual traffic, trade rise and falls tracking years of business trade. Keep estimations accurate in effect.”

Current Tweed Shire Councillor Carolyn Byrne
Current Tweed Shire
Councillor Carolyn Byrne

“As operator of a small business, I actively support local business. Business growth opportunities for the Tweed, include services that support our aged community (especially dementia friendly); in tourism it is about sporting events and also businesses that can promote our picturesque locality, food is also a big mover for small business and with land releases there will be building trade and supply opportunities.

Council needs to collaborate with Destination Tweed, the Chambers of Commerce and other stakeholders to promote the region and assist to promote the Tweed. Council also needs to be part of the economic development and businesses need to be empowered to work together, similar to what we saw at the recent, Council initiated, Food Forum.

We need to use the area’s assets, including the scenic landscape, coastline, airport and Murwillumbah architecture to promote the region and therefore promoting business opportunities and growth.”

Current Tweed Shire Councillor Barry Longland
Current Tweed Shire
Councillor Barry Longland

“Small business success is directly related to market conditions. In a growth area like ours, the orderly expansion of urban development, which is already on the books, will help create new opportunities for delivery of the goods and services that residents demand. These will be in the construction, tourism and hospitality as well as health services.

Council has a role in the sensitive roll-out of future urban expansion that will support our environmental and social values. However, the Council needs to do more than simply provide the platform. Start up costs for small business can be a deal-breaker for new entrants, usually in the form of Council contributions for road, sewer and water.

If I am re-elected, I will continue to argue for streamlining and removal of red tape from our Small Business Incentives program adopted in the last term. This can provide a holiday from the payment of contributions and a business concierge who can help guide new entrants through Council’s planning processes.”

Group B lead candidate Chris Cherry
Group B lead candidate Chris Cherry

“I believe Tweed is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the demand for Eco-tourism and organic produce and boutique products made here on the Tweed. Tweed needs to support businesses that are clean and green, like the successful Stone and Wood boutique beer made in Murwillumbah. Agricultural value-adding, by maximising the impact of the local produce, is the basis for small businesses. I believe Council could support small businesses better by having a dedicated officer within Council who would help navigate the red tape often associated with getting businesses up and running. We need to transition this curious time we are in where much of the normal retail is now happening online and create small businesses that offer things that cannot be mass produced overseas. Celebrate our difference and think outside the box by creating pop-up retail/gallery spaces so that our urban areas thrive as much as our rural landscapes shine.”

Current Tweed Shire Councillor Warren Polglase
Current Tweed Shire Councillor Warren Polglase

“Warren Polglase Group have an Action Agenda for Small Business Growth.

Reduce Red Tape – We need a continuing mandate to improve inefficient regulatory barriers, and to remove ineffective or unintentionally negative ones,

For these reasons, we need to ensure that the Council’s Regulations are effective in what they set out to achieve, and are efficient in the achievement of those objectives.

Our Council needs to be asking: Are there better ways to regulate business activities?

Our Council needs to be asking: Are there better alternatives to business regulation?

Our Council needs Initiative: ensure we are open to new ideas for doing things – not a focus on the same old trusted way – need the capacity to try new ideas

Warren Polglase Group will help build the profitability of the Tweed Small Business Sector through the implementation of our Action Agendas for Jobs Growth; Industry Development; Agricultural Development; Tourism Development; Investment Attraction and Tweed Start-Up Assistance.”

Labor lead candidate Reece Byrnes

“My family ran and operated a small business in the Tweed so I understand first-hand the challenges our local businesses face.

Small business is the backbone of our local economy and a major employer in our region. We need a Council that supports and encourages small businesses.

That is why Tweed Labor as part of its Action Plan has committed to adopting Council’s draft Revised Business Investment Policy to help small business start-ups and growth.

Tweed Labor also believes our local economy can be improved in the areas of tourism and the food economy. That is why Tweed Labor will support a rail trail and look at ways in which we can streamline events management policy.

Tweed Labor recognises there are many opportunities in Indigenous Tourism , Eco Tourism, as well as  investment and employment in the Renewable energy sector.”

Group J lead candidate Kevin Skinner
Group J lead candidate Kevin Skinner

“If elected I would utilise my many years in small business to work with and help all small businesses to firstly survive through these tough times .

We need to shop local and work as a team to build a strong and resilient economy here in our own back yard. In tourism alone we need to continue to improve our products and facilities that we offer to our tourists. Our roads are falling apart our boating  facilities  need further attention, the roadside maintenance leaves a lot to desire in general the entry statement into Tweed Shire from our main tourists north of the border is not very inviting. As a councillor I would seek to identify infrastructure that the council could implement with government support to drive the entire economy forward to the long term benefit of small business eg. Training hospital, Schools, Universities, Utilities and the Environment.”

Group E lead candidate Michael McNamara
Group E lead candidate Michael McNamara

“A thriving small business sector should be a key objective of Council. It is critical to creating real and meaningful job opportunities for our children. One of the best ways to drive this is to support community organisations to build from the ground up through local initiatives like Thrive 2484. A business development and support strategy, similar to the Events Strategy, is crucial.

Tourism, agriculture and construction will continue as significant industries in the Tweed. The Arts has also taken off as a significant economic driver. Council needs to develop strategies to leverage off the Tweed Regional Gallery’s success and support Arts-related businesses to thrive. I support establishing a Creative Hub in Murwillumbah and extending this Arts focus across the Shire. We need to draw the 200,000 gallery visitors annually out across the Shire.

Council should implement an enhanced local purchasing scheme with greater priority for local suppliers of goods and services. Fees and charges levied on businesses must be kept as low as possible and downward pressure on rates maintained.”

 

No High Rise Group lead candidate Ron Cooper

“I have spoken with thousands of people – yes thousands – while collecting the two largest petitions ever in the Tweed and the largest ever survey.  I’ve concluded that the combined life experience and common sense of the average resident and business person can give invaluable guidance to Council if only they are asked – not advised, asked.

Expecting business success by simply providing more potential customers is naive.  If Council doesn’t match customer growth with adequate infrastructure, we will start to see business failures and not just in the new ventures.

So what to do?  Council can facilitate a conversation between businesses – and I mean tapping into the experience of new and long-standing business owners, managers and employees.

Council can then adapt its plans to ensure the impacts of growth are positive and the introduction of new business is welcomed by customers and competitors alike.

If Council is pushing growth just for the revenue I’d be really worried.  We don’t need more of the ‘we know what’s best for you’ bureaucrats in upstairs offices.”

Group E candidate Greg Reid
Group E candidate Greg Reid

“With an aging population, the Tweed needs a growing health sector and this is a major employer with high quality jobs. The Council needs to be encouraging specialist services and health precincts while lobbying for a new and larger hospital with better road access. Community energy schemes can reduce council energy costs while providing secure investment structures for retirees. By becoming a leader in this sector the Tweed can become a technology hub for renewable energy, micro-grids and storage.

I was a small business owner for nearly 18 years with Dot’s by the Sea Kingscliff. I understand that being supportive of the Business Investment Policy and Economic Development Strategy (that guides TSC officers and Destination Tweed) is one of the most important areas I can assist small business in their endeavours to grow small business in our shire.”

Group C lead candidate Jayne Henry
Group C lead candidate Jayne Henry

“Small business makes a significant contribution to the Tweed Shire and I consider them to be the heart and blood of our local communities. They drive the economy and provide employment opportunities for our constituents. Being a small business owner/operator for many years, I have a great appreciation for the hours and dedication required in this extremely volatile economic climate as well as the uncertainty we sometimes face due to seasonal change and uncontrollable factors. I would identify Tourism, Hospitality and Agriculture as our key business sectors and believe them to be areas of opportunity and potential growth and innovation. Opportunities such as the impending Commonwealth Games, sustainable green industries, Agritourism & alternative agricultural models, are the key to growing and thriving well into the future. Through my consistent door knocking efforts during the course of this election, three problem areas that are consistently brought to my attention are the challenges facing business owners in the Murwillumbah CBD, parking in the Tweed Heads & Kingscliff CBDs and the effect the impending Kingscliff foreshore development will inadvertently have on small business on Marine Parade. The struggles facing small business are differing and varied from business to business, sector to sector, and I believe that more consultation and collaboration between Council and small business operators is essential to working towards solutions.”

Group O lead candidate Kaye Sharples
Group O lead candidate Kaye Sharples

“Those in small business understand that survival depends wholly on properly, honestly and reliably servicing their customers. If you don’t, you’re gone. Yet our Council hardly knows these businesses exist. Take our struggling marine industries of river cruises, whale watching and fishing charters, which bring into the Tweed tens of thousands of people a year. Council doesn’t assist, in fact doesn’t seem to care. With a bit of planning and encouragement these industries could easily double in capacity and their customers could be directed to other local attractions and activities to improve our local economy. We need Council to actively create business networks, databases, workshops and to nurture relationships, promote trust and opportunities. We need a proper public transport system from the Gold Coast and we should be laying plans for an airport in the Tweed Shire. This is not rocket science; it’s basic. However, first there must be cultural change at the top and small business has to feel it can directly ask Council for help. So let’s get on with it and get those Queensland dollars rolling down here and staying longer.”

Liberal candidates James Owen & Toni Zuschke

“Collectively we have many years of experience in businesses and so are acutely aware of the challenges and opportunities for small business in the Tweed. Council plays a crucial role in supporting them to grow but it must be done collaboratively with local business, the community and state and federal governments. Key initiatives include: 1. Monitoring the uptake of Council’s Business Investment Policy and ensure it is being communicated effectively. 2. Ensuring council has robust Economic Development Unit with an appointed business concierge to assist businesses to establish and grow. 3. Using the Tweed Shire Economic Development Strategy Action Plan as a blueprint, develop CBD master plans throughout the Shire to identify opportunities for cluster precincts in the tourism/hospitality, education, medical services and technology industries. 4. Request the NSW Government to consider opening a new Trade and Investment office in Tweed Heads. 5. Call for Council to provide an overview of ‘Red Tape’ around complying development 6. Investigate opportunities for an Innovation Hub in Tweed that supports business and harnesses the skills and intellectual property of our seniors.”

Current Tweed Shire Council Mayor Katie Milne
Current Tweed Shire Council Mayor Katie Milne

“Small business is the backbone of the economy and where the largest proportion of our jobs are. In 2012, I was very pleased to propose our Shire-wide Economic Development Strategy, initially opposed by Cr Byrne and Cr Polglase, which has a comprehensive range of actions to support small business. Council’s new Business Investment Policy now provides for a range of deferred payments and discounts for new and expanding small businesses. Making sure our towns, villages and rural areas are attractive and culturally interesting is vitally important to keeping and attracting business owners and customers. I proposed to green up our towns, which studies show can increase business by 20 per cent, but this was opposed by the conservatives, including Cr Longland. A thriving business environment is not just about Development ‘at any cost’ as our pro-developer Councillors promote. That is a losers’ game in the long run.”

Group G lead candidate Dot Holdom

“One of the greatest attributes I have is the ability to understand that business people are invariably “best qualified to see their own potential”. We have industrial, commercial and retail centres, water supply, access to two airports, highway access, agriculture, waterways, lifestyle etc., and along with the Business Investment Policy/ Economic Development Strategy these are the elements that can attract any business to our shire along with our fantastic environmental landscape.

By ensuring that the Business Investment Policy and Economic Development Strategy keep pace with the changing world we live in.”