TEARS, laughter, anger, smiles and frustration - this definitely wasn't your average business lunch.
The climate facing small businesses in Grafton is anything but average at the moment and emotions were running high when about 50 local business leaders met with Minister for Small Business, Brendan O'Connor at a lunch time meeting at the Grafton District Services Club.
Mr O'Connor was invited to Grafton by Page MP Janelle Saffin to get a feel for the local economy and the issues facing small business, and local business-owners weren't shy in giving a blunt assessment of the situation.
An emotional Spiro Notaras - owner of the J. Notaras and Sons Sawmill - fought to hold back tears when he told Mr O'Connor about the uncertain future of his family business with projected cost increases through the carbon price and fuel tax making the mill less and less viable.
Grafton Shoppingworld manager Greg Hayes said inflexible penalty rate requirements in the Fair Work Act meant many small businesses in his complex and the rest of the town could not actually afford to open their doors on Sundays.
Steve Muir who operates a micro-business manufacturing carbon fibre kayak paddles said he was struggling to compete with online sellers overseas who were able to sell similar products to consumers GST-free.
Manager of the Northern NSW Business Council John Murray thanked Mr O'Connor for hearing the concerns of those present.