17 June 2021

The region’s peak business organisation, Business Illawarra, has today welcomed the release of the report by NSW Small Business Commissioner into the challenges faced by small business in the Wingecarribee Shire, which contains 20 recommendations to address the long-standing concerns of businesses and their representatives.

The report was officially released by the Commissioner, Mr Chris Lamont, this morning at an event attended by local business owners, chamber representatives, the Minister for Finance and Small Business the Hon. Damien Tudehope MLC and Member for Wollondilly, Nathaniel Smith MP.

“This is a crucial step in repairing business conditions in the Southern Highlands, and the Commissioner’s report lights a path forward for a greatly improved working relationship between Council and business,” said Adam Zarth, Executive Director of Business Illawarra.

“Following a rigorous and inclusive consultation process, the Commissioner’s report identifies many of the ways in which Council processes and performance have hindered business growth, and importantly provides 20 measures through which this can be dramatically improved.”

“Given we, together with our affiliated local chambers of commerce, were successful in calling for the Commissioner’s intervention at this pivotal time during the suspension of council, it is heartening to see so many of the recommendations made in our submissions incorporated in this report.”

“These include fixing approvals processes for development applications and events, fast-tracking of economic infrastructure, greater transparency on costs and fees, more opportunity for local businesses through Council procurement, the establishment of a small business reference group, addressing skills and housing shortages, improvements to customer service and the delivery of an updated economic development strategy.”

“Thanks to the efforts of Interim Administrator Mr Viv May PSM, there are many improvements already underway at Council, and Mr May was closely involved through the Commissioner’s consultations.”

“This report sets a high standard for Council performance going forward in respect of economic development and support for business, and this will be particularly important following the September local government elections. We will continue our efforts to take this work forward, and I call on all candidates for council election to pay close attention to the Commissioner’s recommendations.”

“Today’s outcome is a reflection of the work of the business chamber movement in the region, and highlights our cooperative advocacy, our persistence and our influence. I acknowledge the executives and members of the South Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Moss Vale and Rural Chamber of Commerce and Robertson Business Chamber. Thanks are also due to our local members of parliament, Nathaniel Smith and Wendy Tuckerman, for their advocacy on behalf of businesses and ongoing support of strong governance in the Shire,” said Mr Zarth.

A copy of the Commissioner’s report is available here.

A copy of our submission is available here