Presented by President Paul Seager at the 2012/2013 AGM.
The 2012/2013 financial year has presented a range of challenges as well as opportunities for the Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce.
Looking back over the past year, I am pleased to say that most of the major projects in our Region have progressed well:
- the CBH processing plant was commissioned and commenced operations
- the Cristal mineral separation plant expansion was commissioned and commenced operations
- the Mental Health Sub-acute Unit at the Broken Hill Hospital was completed and opened
- the Rehabilitation Unit at the Broken Hill Hospital was completed and opened
- construction of additional teacher housing was completed
- construction of additional RFDS housing was completed
- construction has commenced on the GP super clinic opposite the Hospital
- construction has commenced at the Coles shopping centre site – new tilt-slab wall panels are going up almost every day
- construction has commenced at the Broken Hill Retirement Village (old Excelsior Oval site) – there are now 5 houses on-site
- the third Resources and Energy Symposium was held in Broken Hill, which in itself generates business for the accommodation and hospitality sectors
Major projects that are still in the preparation phase have also progressed over the last year:
- the construction tender for the AGL Silverton wind farm is due to be awarded shortly
- planning for the AGL Solar Flagships Program (Broken Hill solar farm) is well advanced
- Carpentaria Exploration Limited – Hawsons magnetite (iron ore) project
– recently granted Significant Project Status by the NSW Government
– the bankable feasibility study is underway
- Broken Hill Prospecting – Thackaringa cobalt deposit
– major increase in project scope for sulphuric acid production (BDT 8 July)
The tourism sector is performing well – I am sure that many of you will have seen the large number of visitors in Broken Hill recently.
However, it is not all good news for the Broken Hill economy:
- the retail sector continues to face challenges from on-line shopping, people travelling away from Broken Hill to shop and reduced discretionary spending
- the proposed rate increase will also negatively impact all Broken Hill businesses, as any rise in operating costs results in either increased prices or reduced margins, which in turn affects business sustainability
Longer term issues include the seemingly endless delay in Broken Hill being listed for the NBN rollout and the lack of competition in the aviation sector.
- the irony with NBN is that the cable has been laid all the way to Broken Hill (to the corner of Wentworth Rd and Kanandah Rd)
- the irony with the lack of airline competition is that it is usually cheaper to fly to Adelaide and then on to Sydney on one of the larger carriers, than it is to fly to Sydney “direct” via Dubbo or Mildura. I am particularly disappointed that there are now no longer any direct weekday flights to or from Sydney
On a brighter note, the Chamber has continued with the Excellence in Customer Service Awards. This year’s winners were:
- Wayne Walker, Charlottes Café
- Jordon Emmett, NES Complete Home
- Craig Caruana, Far West Autos
- Mark Halliday, Silver City Motors
- Brad Pettit, Broken Hill Local Employment & Training Solutions
- Aston Underwood, Westside Newsagency
- Carolyn Hoskins, Jadan Cottages
- Dylan Milsteed at Edgenett Computer Services
- Williams St Surgery
- Thrifty Regional Eyewear at Centro Plaza
- Jon Clarke, Telstra Licensed Shop, Broken Hill
The Chamber has continued to work closely with a number of organisations to promote business and economic development in the Far West of NSW. These include AGL and the Industry Capability Network (in relation to the Silverton wind farm and solar flagships project), the Broken Hill City Council (in relation to the Aquatic Centre Tender and Community Strategic Plan) and the Minerals Council (who we met with earlier this week). Partnerships with the Enterprise Development Centre and Regional Development Australia have also been maintained.
The Chamber has also supported a number of community projects, including LifeLine, Broken Hill Family Day Care and Max Potential.
Perhaps the major issue of the last year has been the Parliamentary Standing Committee inquiry into the Office of the Valuer-General. The Chamber took on a very active role in this inquiry. Dennis and I gave evidence to the Standing Committee and followed this up with a written submission. Our submission was well-received, directly resulting in at least two recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
The Chamber has continued to maintain an active profile the media. Anne Bransdon, Dennis and myself all completed regular media interviews, on a wide range of subjects including:
- population decline or population growth
- fly in-fly out workers
- Excellence in Customer Service Awards
- business and economic outlook
- Parliamentary Standing Committee enquiry into the Office of the Valuer-General
- increased business rates
The Chamber website and Facebook page continue to be updated regularly.
The last year has also seen a change in the Chamber’s Executive Officer position. Anne Bransdon was challenged (in a nice way) by a significant growth in her own business and left the EO position to devote more time to a range of projects including Max Potential. I would again like to recognise Anne’s contribution during her time as Executive Officer, and I am particularly pleased that she agreed to re-join the Chamber Board.
Dennis Roach took up the Executive Officer position in February and quickly settled into the role. Dennis has a strong range of skills that has suited him very well for this position. He is a good communicator and relationship-builder, and coming from a background in the legal sector, he has a good feel for industrial relations and related matters about running a business. Dennis has also continued the tradition of the Executive Officer in providing counselling to the Chamber President!
I would like to thank the Chamber Board members. After I took on the role of interim President about two and a half years ago, I have greatly appreciated their continued support.
I would also like to thank you – the members. As a member-based organisation, the Chamber works hard to try to represent the broad range of interests of it’s members. Hopefully we get the balance right, but – as always – you are welcome to discuss any matter with Dennis, myself or any of the Board members.
In closing, I would like to let you know that I will not be standing for the position of President tonight. I have returned to study this year, and along with some family health issues, I feel that I am unable to give the role the attention it deserves.
It has been a privilege to lead the Chamber for the last two years. I’m not sure that any other Chamber has chosen a public servant as President, but then again Broken Hill has a long history of doing things differently. That of course is one of the reasons I love living here! I will not be leaving the Chamber – I hope to stay on as a Board member – if you will have me!
Once again, thank you for the opportunity. It has been an honour.
Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce