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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 726

Mr NEUMANN (9:45 PM) —Usually the new year brings with it a feeling of refreshment, a new beginning, the chance to undo, redo or redress. Resolutions abound, often about behaviour and choices aimed at improving our waistlines, our fitness or our spending habits. Sadly, the new year of 2011 will be remembered for more raging and pestilent weather than we could have imagined, and South-East Queensland has felt the brutal end of nature’s fury. We all know about the effects of La Nina—we have seen the images day after day and night after night on our television screens. Some of us have spent many long hours working alongside people who have lost everything. Volunteers have given of their time and energy as well as our tirelessly dedicated men and women in the SES, the police force and the ADF. The conditions have been appalling, and for many people the situation is dire and often heartbreaking. I have been humbled by what I have seen. I have been honoured to witness so much commitment, courage and resilience. It is that strength of character—the courage to face the worst and to plough on—that I want to talk about today.

The city of Ipswich is at the heart of the electorate of Blair. It has suffered so much of late. It is no stranger to flooding. Ipswich has endured inundations for many years. The worst many people thought were in 1974 or 1893, but the flooding of 2011 was worse still. Ipswich has grown rapidly. People have suffered. But Ipswichians are made of stern stuff. We have reinvented our city over and over again after depressions, closures and economic upheavals. With heavy industry closing down, many predicted the end of Ipswich, but they were wrong. When the mining industry wound down, a death knell was sounded—wrong again. The GFC many thought would be catastrophic—wrong again. And with the flooding they will be wrong again.

The Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in partnership with the federally funded Business Enterprise Centre Ipswich Region and the Ipswich City Council, sprang into action long before the flood waters even peaked. A business recovery initiative was put together and put into action. Business people were surveyed to find out what they needed and how they could help. Free daily workshops were held for business to help smooth the pathway for access to funding and assistance. A one-stop business recovery shop was set up to centralise all the information and support. A business recovery package was put together and hand-delivered to businesses in nearly 20 areas throughout Blair and beyond to Toowoomba, Grantham, Gatton and into Brisbane. A sense of optimism and purpose galvanised the flood affected areas and gave purpose and direction to all those who could help.

This business recovery initiative has proved so successful, so admired and so respected that other chambers of commerce around Queensland have sought to emulate its approach in flood affected areas. The Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Business Enterprise Centre Ipswich Region and the Ipswich City Council, in partnership with the Queensland Times newspaper and the local radio station River 949, initiated a buy-local campaign which they call Shop Ipswich, which has an image of a heart at the centre. Shop Ipswich highlights how buying locally can have a powerful and immediate impact on business recovery. Shop Ipswich helps people and business locally. Shop Ipswich is about building consumer confidence and local confidence as well. It is a campaign that has attracted many others.

Following its launch by the Ipswich mayor, Paul Pisasale, and the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry just a couple of weeks ago, Shop Ipswich has already attracted widespread attention. I was pleased to be there along with the state member for Ipswich, Rachel Nolan. Even our competitors the Gold Coast chamber of commerce have been in contact and organised for their members to come and experience Shop Ipswich firsthand. It is only the beginning of what Shop Ipswich can achieve in our city and in our region. I congratulate the President of the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Michael Munt, the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s board and its members. I am pleased to be a member of the chamber. I thank Tony Axford and the staff at the Ipswich Business enterprise Centre, the Ipswich City Council Office of Economic Development and the local staff of the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation for their tireless and dedicated commitment to the Ipswich area and Ipswich business people. I commend all those who have worked and are now working to ensure that Ipswich emerges from the devastating floods of 2011. I am sure that the Ipswich business community will advance with optimism, progress and determination. I urge all local residents to shop locally and shop Ipswich.