New business forum attracts the top brass

THE inaugural Northern Rivers Business Leaders Forum held in Lismore last week was an outstanding success.

Such was the importance of the event that both NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance and NSW Business Chamber CEO Stephen Cartwright attended and provided an in-depth perspective to many of the issues and concerns facing businesses in the region.

Red tape, the increasing cost of compliance and comparisons with our proximity with Queensland and its differing business costs were but some of the issues discussed at some length with the Treasurer.

While not a state issue, the crippling effects the Fair Work penalty rates was having on the region's tourism, hospitality and retail businesses was again strongly put forward as a major handbrake on the local economy.

Also discussed was the 'ghost town' survey about to be undertaken by the Northern Rivers - NSW Business Chamber to identify the many empty shops we have on weekends and public holidays because of the unaffordable pay rates that apply.

That businesses were not able to open was given as but one reason why we had such a high youth unemployment rate in the region.

The proposal to lease 49% of the metropolitan 'poles & wires' (distribution) should this government be successful at next year's state election was discussed, with overwhelming support towards the concept.

* JOHN MURRAY is the regional manager (Northern Rivers) of the NSW Business Chamber.



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