Maclean Variety Meats owner John Allen, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Eric Abetz, and Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker discuss issues affecting small businesses. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner
Maclean Variety Meats owner John Allen, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Eric Abetz, and Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker discuss issues affecting small businesses. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner Jojo Newby

Businesses air grievances

INCREASING electricity rates, declining consumer confidence and the booming trend of internet shopping were among the major challenges discussed by small business owners in Maclean yesterday.

Federal Opposition spokesman for Employment and Workplace Relations Senator Eric Abetz and Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker yesterday hit the pavement in River St Maclean to talk to business owners about the issues facing them in the area.

Mr Abetz said one issue which kept coming up in discussions was the carbon price and what effects it could have on the local economy.

"Here we've been hearing about electricity price rises and, of course, how the carbon tax will just make the situation so much worse," Mr Abetz said.

"When governments increase taxes they develop a vicious cycle, because if your home electricity bill goes up, how are you going to pay for it? Well you're going to ask your boss for a higher wage.

"When there are increased taxes and increased cost of living, then there'll be increased wage demands; then, because of increased wage demands, prices will go up. As a result of that, people will want more wage increases to cope with the higher cost of living."

Mr Abetz said the Federal Coalition planned to abolish the carbon price which he said he believed would help ease the pressure on small businesses.

The carbon price wasn't the only challenge to small business discussed yesterday.

A general down-turn in spending and less traffic from tourism to the village were also cited by business owners as some of the big problems.

One business owner, however, said many of these issues, including the carbon price, paled in comparison to the threat to small retail businesses from the growing trend of buying online from overseas (GST free) instead of shopping locally.

The owner, who asked not to be named, said more and more businesses were being forced to drastically reduce ticket prices on their products just to get customers in the door, leaving them with minimal profit from sales. The owner said this issue needed to be urgently addressed.

Mr Abetz agreed that increased internet shopping from overseas businesses was a major problem but a clear solution had still to be identified by the Coalition.



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