This year, the Chamber was very proud to be named as a finalist in the Central West Orana Business Awards in the Best Local Chamber category. It was a rewarding announcement as we were up against some large Chambers with significant budgets. It goes to show, that your Chamber is punching above its weight and we will continue to do so.
We were also able to secure the contract for the NSW Government Small Biz Connect Program which provides free and subsidised business advisory services to businesses in the Broken Hill City Council boundary, Central Darling Shire and Unincorporated NSW. The program currently has about 130 clients and has played a significant role in raising the profile of the Chamber. A number of new members have joined us in recent months and a number of members who had allowed their membership to lapse have re-joined.
As the only organisation that represents business and industry in Far West NSW, the Chamber Board and Executive spend a lot of time consulting with members, attending inquiries and making submissions to all levels of Government to assist business growth and economic development in the region. Some of these activities this year have included:
NSW Business Chamber submission into the Regional Aviation Inquiry, which included Broken Hill as a stand alone case study. We were pleased to hear, as a result of this inquiry, that the Federal government will re-introduce the en-route payment scheme, which will improve our linkages with health, tourism and business opportunities
IPART Review into Water and Sewerage Prices requesting that Essential Energy extrapolate its four year infrastructure renewal program over 10 years to reduce the short term impact of a 5.9% increase per year for the next four years. IPART determined that this was legitimate request and as a result, our members will have an increased lead in time to build water price increases into their operational plans.
Country Cabinet meeting in held Broken Hill in September, 2013. One of the issues of concern was the potential removal of the Office of Fair Trading from Broken Hill. The Minister, The Hon, Anthony Roberts confirmed that the office would become part of a one-stop shop but that the position would remain in Broken Hill to provide face-to-face service. The one-stop shop is expected to be open by June 2015.
The Chamber has also been active participants on a number of committees this financial year including:
- The Broken Hill City Council Community Strategic Plan review Panel
- The Broken Hill Tourism Industry Taskforce
- The Community Crime Consultative Committee
- The Centre for Indigenous Excellence Consultative Committee
- The Essential Water Customer Council
- Silverton Wind Farm Community Consultative Committee (AGL)
- Broken Hill Proud Committee
Despite some down-sizing of our core mines during 2013 due to the low metal prices, the high dollar and difficult mining conditions, we have entered a new mining era. The NSW Government’s green light for Uranium exploration, the continued exploration taking place for cobalt, iron ore copper, gold and molybdenum and other minerals and the $13M transport upgrade at Cristal Mining’s Separation Plant all indicate a positive future in mining for the region. With exploration comes opportunity for mining development, population growth and service expansion. The opening of the $35M Coles complex indicates a faith in our economy as does the number of small businesses who have started or are in start-up mode in our City. The Chamber works closely with Government and Industry representative to keep a finger on the pulse of these developments to ensure that our members and community have opportunities to participate in economic development activities that come to the region.
The City of Broken Hill is entering an exciting new era as we reposition ourselves on a global scale as a world heritage city. The term heritage city encompasses all that has made us strong – our Indigenous, industrial, architectural, creative and social strengths and our new and emerging industries such renewable energy, digital technology and alternative retail. I would encourage our members and the wider business community to get involved with the projects that are going to take place in the next few years to ensure that Broken Hill remains a vibrant and sustainable community.
A special mention must be made for the work and dedication our CEO Anne Bransdon-Andrews has contributed to the organisation. Without her commitment to the Chamber we would not be in the strong position we are today.
I would like to thank my team this year for their great contribution to the Chamber. We have only just begun to scratch the surface of the opportunities available to us and we are looking forward to continuing to grow our Chamber in 2015 and beyond.