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Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Page: 2138


Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (19:35): I rise to speak about a major commitment to the people of Robertson to deliver more local jobs to my electorate on the Central Coast. In doing so I note the government's impressive record already when it comes to jobs. Sixteen thousand jobs were added in January and 403,000 jobs for the year. We've now had 16 consecutive months of jobs growth, which is the longest run of jobs growth ever recorded. Our business tax cuts are helping small business to invest, hire and grow. We want to create even more jobs and opportunities, including for families and businesses on the Central Coast. We know that more needs to be done to ensure that people can live and work in what I think is the greatest region in the greatest country in the world.

That's why our growth plan for the Central Coast—a key part of it and a real game changer for the Central Coast—includes the delivery of 600 new jobs in a new ATO building in Gosford. The first ATO employees started work at their desks last year, which is fantastic news for our community. But there have been questions from our community around what sort of impact the jobs will have on the local economy. That is what I would like to focus on in my time today. The reports are in. I'm pleased to confirm that we are already seeing an uplift in Gosford CBD that's being felt by businesses, local families and the wider community. I call this coffee-shop economics, based on the simple premise that each of the 600 employees will be grabbing their morning coffee, and maybe a few coffees on a busy day, in Gosford and not in Sydney or Newcastle, which creates more confidence and more jobs for people on the coast.

What better place to turn to for evidence than coffee shops and business owners themselves to see if Gosford really is experiencing a change in fortunes. The Good Bits Co is a new coffee shop near Kibble Park. It's a great new venue with great coffee. Lydia told me that since the ATO has opened they have definitely been a lot busier. She said, 'We've seen a lot of new faces coming through the cafe. It's been really great. The popularity of our cafe is spread through word of mouth, and we've now got some great regular customers who are ATO staff. We're all about pumping up Gosford, and these jobs have really made a difference to the area.'

Paul, another local business person in Gosford, agreed and said, 'Since the ATO has opened, the CBD feels like it's buzzing again. Local cafes and restaurants are busy at breakfast and lunchtimes, and the influx of new workers has benefitted local mum and dad businesses.' Jeff from F45 Training, also in Gosford, said he was now looking at ways to market the gym to people working in the ATO building. Jeff said he has seen local cafes around the corner from the gym busy with the customers from the ATO every morning. Jan Gairn, from Ray White Gosford, said that with greater career opportunities it's making Gosford and the local area a more vibrant region, and the economic stimulation is already significant at a grassroots level. She said that this has become evident with small-business owners opening their doors in and around the Gosford CBD offering more services in the retail sector, such as coffee shops, clothing stores and restaurants locally, which are being supported and embraced by the local workforce.

In the case of the small number of people who have been travelling into Gosford—because, of course, the vast majority of people at the ATO in Gosford are actually living locally on the Central Coast and are now able to work on the Central Coast—those people who are travelling from the Hills District and the North Shore area of Sydney to Gosford for employment, anecdotally are saying they are considering making a permanent move to the coast because of our region's lifestyle and affordability. Peter Blacker from Central Coast Leagues Club also said the injection of jobs from the ATO has been really positive for Gosford. The Central Coast Leagues Club is just up the road from the ATO, and Peter said they have seen a lot more people out and about walking the streets and that Gosford hasn't been like that in a long time.

Rod Dever, the new president of the Gosford-Erina chamber of commerce, also confirmed that the construction of the ATO and the commitment to deliver 600 new jobs has been a positive development in terms of the Gosford area. Rod said the ATO has held a number of information sessions and has been fantastic in terms of outreach to local businesses, and that having a government department available at a local level has meant that obtaining information is also much easier. So, this week, we're continuing to contact businesses across Gosford to hear more about the economic impact that these policies are having on our city and on our region. I look forward to continuing to update my community and the parliament about the success of our growth plan to rejuvenate Gosford.