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Small to medium-size businesses are critical to the economic health of the North-West Coast.

By TCCI Chief Executive Michael Bailey

Post the State Budget, the next major item on the Tasmanian political agenda is the Braddon by-election, one of five polls on so-called “Super Saturday”.

The TCCI wants the two major party candidates, Labor’s Justine Keay and the Liberals’ Brett Whiteley, to focus on business in its entirety on the North-West Coast. And this means small- to medium-size businesses, which are so critical to the economic health of the region.

We know that Australia-wide, there is a growing “anti-business” sentiment, especially against the banks on the back of the shocking revelations of the Royal Commission.

But the TCCI knows, by going into businesses and talking to staff in the North-West, that people understand the importance of our sector and employment on the coast.

From a Federal Government perspective, whatever the outcome of the by-election, the TCCI wants the return of the Minister for Small Business to Cabinet … not outside it as exists now.

What small and medium-sized business in the North-West want are support for training and training systems to up skill their staff, as well as tax settings that are suitable for their businesses.

Every year, the TCCI lobbies for the continuation of the $20,000 rebate for SMEs to buy business infrastructure … when is that going to be made permanent?

When I look at the coast and the electorate of Braddon, I see commendable growth, with for example subdivisions in and around Latrobe going ahead.

The construction sector is humming along, with new builds, extensions and renovations filling builders’ books.

But what about some more help from the Federal sphere. We hear support for decentralisation from people like Liberal Member for Bennelong John Alexander.

But focus on this … 100 extra jobs in the Sydney or Melbourne markets means little … but 100 jobs on the Coast? Major impact.

It’s about time the Federal Government identified numbers and time lines … how many jobs by when.

What Braddon needs is a “Voice for the Coast” … and that’s what I want to see from the newly-elected member … whether it be Ms Keay or Mr Whiteley.

I look across Bass Strait to South Australia, where Christopher Pyne, although he is a minister, being the strongest voice for that state, now reaping the benefits of Defence Force sector contracts, notably the new submarine build … set to deliver around $9 billion.

I want to see companies like Elphinstone Group and Southern Prospect, as well as others involved in advanced manufacturing, benefit from the defence sector industry. It’s time for people to speak up for the North-West Coast, starting from July 28.