Small Business Minister Brendan O'Connor met Port Douglas
and Daintree small business operators today at a specially
convened meeting hosted by Gordon Wellham, chair of Tourism
Port Douglas and Daintree.
"This meeting was another opportunity to make sure I am
fully informed of the challenges facing Australia's small
business sector around the nation," Mr O'Connor said.
"With over 21,000 operators from Cairns to Cape York, small
business is an important local driver of economic activity
"The Government understands that small businesses,
particularly those in the tourism industry, have taken a
beating as a result of the high Aussie dollar.
"That's why we are working with individual businesses to
help them innovate and remain competitive through the
Enterprise Connect program.
"We've based two business advisers in Cairns with a further
adviser attached to the Remote Enterprise Centre working in
"Together, Enterprise Connect has conducted 367 business
reviews and provided 178 tailored advisory service grants
to small and medium enterprises in regional North
Queensland. Of these, 50 business reviews and 27 tailored
advisory services grants were provided to tourism
"In addition, the Small Business Advisory Service program
provided by Advance Cairns BEC has assisted 251 businesses
with 427 services to the region."
Small business owners can also get advice from the Small
Business Support Line (SBSL) on 1800 77 7275.
Since September 2009, the SBSL has received 476 calls from
the Leichhardt electorate in North Queensland, many of
which were referred to the Advanced Cairns BEC. The top
three enquiries are about Federal Government grants and
assistance, registering a business or company and advice
and support, such as starting a business and business
Mr O'Connor visited Seabean Café, one of the Port Douglas
businesses assisted by Advance Cairns BEC.
"Advance Cairns BEC was able to help Seabean Café's new
owners to refine their business plan and access finance to
develop the Wharf Street restaurant," Mr O'Connor said.
Mr O'Connor congratulated Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree
on its collaborative approach to build the area's tourism
industry which has been dealing with the challenges of the
high Australian dollar as well as natural events like
flooding and Cyclone Yasi.
"The Gillard Government recognised the special needs of
areas hit by natural disasters with $2.5 million in
additional Small Business Advisory Service funding
targeting these areas," Mr O'Connor said.
"The success of the Small Business Advisory Service was
recognised in the recent Federal Budget, with $27.5 million
to extend the highly successful program for a further four
years to continue supporting small businesses with vital
advice and assistance.
"We are also appointing an Australian Small Business
Commissioner to develop a new approach to providing
advocacy, advice and representation of small business
interests to the Government.
"The Commissioner will ensure the needs of small business
are taken into account when new policies and programs are
being developed across the Government."