Presented by Executive Officer Dennis Roach at the 2012-2013 AGM.
I would like to begin by acknowledging the work and valuable assistance of my predecessor Anne Brandson.
This is a most exciting and challenging role to move into. Business in Broken Hill and indeed in most of Australia are facing many economic challenges as well as rapid change in the way businesses operate. For Broken Hill businesses the main challenge is keeping a lid on rising costs. The year has seen significant cost increases in wages, energy costs, insurance costs and many other costs to successfully running a business. The high Australian dollar has seen a slowing in domestic tourism as many people opt for an overseas holiday and the high dollars makes buying goods over the internet a more attractive alternative.
Business in Broken Hill has risen to the challenge and it is pleasing to see that many new businesses have opened up in Broken Hill.
A major challenge for businesses and residents in Broken Hill is the question of fair and equitable Local Government rates.
In February the President, Paul Seager and the Executive Officer gave evidence to the NSW Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on the activities of the NSW Valuer General. In addition the Chamber of Commerce prepared a submission with a number of recommendations for this Committee. I am pleased to note that two of these recommendations have been accepted by the NSW Government and will be included in legislative changes now being prepared for the spring sitting of Parliament.
These changes will result in ratepayers receiving clear and detailed advice on how the rateable value of their properties has been determined. The second significant change will be to move the appeal mechanism from the Land and Environment Court to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. What this will mean is that instead of potentially open ended legal costs for an appeal, which is a disincentive to making an appeal, ratepayers will have a single, relatively low cost fee to be lodged when appealing.
The Chamber of Commerce also took a leading role in opposing the current significant rate rises for business. This included radio, television and print media interviews and a detailed and well researched submission to Council. Unfortunately Council chose to disregard this good advice from the Chamber.
The coming year will also see some significant business opportunities for business in Broken Hill. These opportunities are the AGL Silverton Wind Farm project, the AGL Solar Power project on the Adelaide Road and the new Coles shopping centre. The Chamber has been working closely with AGL on preparing capability statements for Broken Hill businesses and assisting the tenderers for the AGL projects by facilitating contacts with local businesses. The Chamber is also having discussions with Coles to encourage their maximum use of local businesses.