It’s tempting for those of us in the cities to forget about those fellow Australians in country towns with the fast pace by causing us to get caught up in our own worlds. But here’s the thing – if it wasn’t for those living across rural, regional and country parts of Australia we may not have bread on the table. We may not have a roast in the oven, milk in our coffee or grains in our cereal. Some might even argue that without rural and regional Australia our cities would hardly function. And you know what, that’s not too far from the truth.
This week I hit the road from Lochinvar to Rutherford, Scone to Singleton and to Tamworth and Murrurundi to see what was happening in the world of small business. And joining me is Federal Small Business Minister Michael McCormack, Bourke legend and indigenous entrepreneur Mark Spinks, Camille Ryan from Tamworth and COSBOA’s CEO Peter Strong.
But first to Michael McCormack. Michael, welcome to the show.
Thanks Matt – and I am very impressed with how you’re getting out and about!
I tell you what it’s been a journey. And one thing about the journey Michael is the fact that many people in the city forget about what’s going on in regional Australia. And there’s a lot happening, right?
There’s a tremendous amount happening. There are 3.2 million small businesses in Australia and many of those are reliant – indeed – on businesses in rural and regional Australia. There are many hundreds of thousands of small businesses in regional areas. They are doing some amazing things, some just incredible things.
I went to Bathurst just the other day with Andrew Gee, the local MP for Calare. Zoe Hida and her husband Isao – they run a small business specialising in media and communications. They’re building apps. You know as well as I do Matt we don’t just surf online, we live online. So they are building these apps and they are connecting to the world!
As we roll out the NBN – and as Senator Fiona Nash rolls out more mobile phone towers – this becomes more possible and so critical. Matt, you mentioned a bit about the sharing economy earlier on the show and I have seen there is just so much going on in country areas and it’s just so inspiring.
That’s right. Staying in a few Airbnb places around the regions, a lot of people think the whole sharing economy only really relates to the city with Airbnb, Uber, AirTasker and all this sort of stuff. But there’s an army of small business operators utilising that sharing economy from Tamworth to Lochinvar, for goodness sake!
There is indeed! And more than that, just last week I met with Melina Morrison and she’s involved with co-ops and mutuals, promoting them. What they’re doing in that space, and the Customer Owned Banking Association – going to places where the big four are either leaving town or don’t have a big footprint.
There’s a lot going on and there’s never been a better time to start a small business. There’s never been a better time to go regional.
I know The Nationals are pushing our decentralisation agenda. Without the congestion, without the pollution, with the communications and technology rolling out there are real opportunities and real money to be made in the regions. By starting a small business in country towns.
Matt, all these little country towns are looking at their street-scapes. They’re benefiting from investment through the Building Better Regions Fund which is rolling out – and we made some announcements about that just a few weeks ago. There are some real opportunities.
So I would ask businesses to look beyond the Blue Mountains to see what opportunities there are. Because there are some fantastic things and – as I say – Matt, you’ve been out and seen it and I would invite other people – particularly corporate executives – to go and do the same.
Fantastic – thanks Michael.