POLITICS was discussed over the dinner table on Tuesday when small business owners met at Cafe 3564 in Echuca to talk with small business minister Michael McCormack and Member for Murray Damian Drum.
Rowan Bennett from Intersport Bennett’s told the minister he was worried about his steadily rising business expenses.
“We can’t increase our sales at the same rate the expenses are increasing and we’re not alone in that,” he said.
“It was interesting to get feedback from other small businesses to see what they’re doing and what issues they’re facing. It was a good get-together.”
Sarah Robson from Winning Homes said she wanted the government to provide more small business incentives to help her hire young apprentices.
“We need incentives to employ locals and keep locals in our regional areas,” she said.
“It’s an important issue and it’s good to know these politicians are passionate about our regional area.”
Mr McCormack ran a small business himself before entering parliament as the small business minister.
“I ran a publishing company and Damian ran a small steel manufacturing business, so we understand the pressures, the challenges, but also the opportunities small business provides,” he said.
“Opportunities are very good for small businesses at the moment because they’ve got the lowest company tax rate – it’s at 27.5 per cent at the moment, the lowest it’s been since 1940.
“I’m the first regional minister for small businesses and the first country based minister, so I understand these communities.”
After touring the region and speaking to small business owners the minister concluded energy prices were high on their minds and high on the power bills.
“It’s all well and good to have renewable aspirations but we need to be realistic.
‘‘We need to put economics and engineering before ideology and – as the PM says – idiocy.
Mr Drum said rising energy prices would hit towns such as Echuca the hardest.
“It was Echuca businesses that first alerted our government to the rising cost of gas,’’ he said.
‘‘That was happening more than 12 months ago when nobody else in Australia was talking about it.
“That’s why it’s important these people have access to the politicians.”
“It’s an opportunity for small business people to be able to talk to the minister in an informal manner about the pressures, what’s working what’s not working, how their businesses are going. “