Tamworth played host to the Treasurer of Australia The Hon Scott Morrison MP, on the weekend, providing leaders of the local business community with an opportunity to illustrate the importance of rural and regional businesses to the national economy, and the need to continue growing regional Australia.
A small group of leading Tamworth business men and women had breakfast with Mr Morrison on Sunday, outlining the scope of their operations, and just what they need from the government to sustain and grow their businesses and make regional centres attractive to current city dwellers.
Mr Morrison said he went away with the message that local business people were behind the government’s proposal to reduce Australia’s company tax rate from 30 to 25 per cent over 10 years, because ultimately it left them with more money to invest in their businesses.
Seftons’ managing director Robbie Sefton was among those invited to breakfast with the treasurer and she believes the meeting also served to further open Mr Morrison’s eyes to the opportunities on offer in rural and regional Australia.
“For more than a decade I’ve supported the move towards promoting non-metropolitan areas as great places to work, run a business, raise a family and enjoy a real quality of life many don’t find in our cities,” she said.
That was certainly the message the treasurer was pushing during his visit, telling media representatives that regional centres like Tamworth were a viable alternative to the capital cities for young people trying to get into the housing market.
“That doesn’t mean they have to, but it’s important that these towns can say to people, you can have a future here, and there’s a great future for families in Tamworth,” Mr Morrison said.
It was one of Robbie’s key points during last year’s Tamworth-based episode of ABC’s Q&A, filmed prior to the federal election, where she urged people in country areas to ignore the negativity around rural and regional Australia and instead focus on the positives of life outside the nation’s big cities.
After attending this month’s ABARES (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences) Outlook conference in Canberra, she said there was every reason to be optimistic.
“The gross value of Australian farm production is forecast to increase by 8.3 per cent to a record $63.8 billion in 2016/17 – that’s fantastic news for the future of regional Australia. A strong agricultural sector paves the way for economic prosperity right across the board,” Robbie said.
She said Sunday’s breakfast, also attended by New England MP and deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, gave Mr Morrison a chance to see that large and successful businesses can and do thrive outside urban centres.
“I think it improved his understanding of the value of agribusiness and regionally-based businesses to the nation’s economy and underlined the importance of ensuring rural and regional areas are well-resourced so the opportunities for ongoing growth remain strong,” Robbie said.