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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 11315

Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (12:56): My electorate of Robertson, on the Central Coast of New South Wales, is one that relies heavily on the small business sector to provide local employment for people on the Central Coast. A recent survey of small businesses by the Central Coast Business Enterprise Centre showed very promising results, indicating that 63 per cent of those surveyed in the last year had grown their business, 36 per cent had stayed at about the same level of business and only one per cent had had a negative result. The centre's CEO, Wayne Gates, was positive about the fact that IT, media and telecom businesses were experiencing strong growth.

The success, optimism and capacity of our local business leaders was absolutely evident to me when I recently had the privilege of attending one evening the inaugural Mercedes-Benz Central Coast Business Excellence Awards for this year. These awards are an initiative of the Central Coast Business Review and recognise those Central Coast businesses that really do strive for excellence in their operations, and they seek to reward those businesses. Edgar Adams, the editor and publisher of the Central Coast Business Review magazine, is the driving force behind these awards. He has lived on the Central Coast for over 30 years and is well respected for his knowledge of issues relating to people in business across our particular region. Edgar has been a very strong advocate for an early rollout of the NBN, understanding, as he does, how that will empower local businesses in a global economy. He also understands that there is a strong business imperative for the Central Coast, and I want to recognise here in parliament his outstanding commitment to the Coast, to local business and to excellence.

The awards that evening acknowledged the Central Coast industry leaders and challenged us to rethink our sadly regular position as 'only one hour north of Sydney and only one hour south of Newcastle'. We are much more than the sandwich filling. We are a fantastic region in our own right, boosted by our central location with businesses aspiring to really perform equal to any in any other location—and, God willing, with the NBN we will be able to get out and show a few of the big cities what we can really do when we get access to the same sort of resources. The awards showcase the strength, innovation, skill and enterprise that exists in our region.

The big winner for this year's awards was a really fantastic local man, a product of Woy Woy who was very glad to acknowledge his humble origins—a gentleman by the name of Warren Hughes. He runs a company called ACS Integrated Service Provider. Mr Hughes started his company in 1991 while he was working as a bouncer at the Kincumber Hotel, a place which is very close to where I live and is often a site of picking up a little bit for the weekend. So he has gone from being a Kincumber pub bouncer to now being the owner of a company that has grown to be a national market leader, mainly in the field of cleaning service provision, with a $20 million annual turnover and employing some 800 staff across Australia. It is a very impressive achievement and I was very encouraged that such incredible entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well on the Central Coast. Warren was very keen to acknowledge the significant role that his wife, Donna, played in his success. She was there to celebrate with him on the evening, as were members of his staff who have been with him since the beginning of his business. He has a very low attrition rate because he runs a fantastic locally based model and he encourages his staff and calls them his family members. They were delighted in the success and they shared in that success with him.

There are a great number of award winners in a number of categories, and I would like to record their success here today. The Innovation Award went to Pixel Mache, Treehouse Creative and Organise Internet; the E-Business Award went to E-Bisprint Pty Ltd; the Service Excellence Award went to Baxter O'Hara Building; the Environmental Awareness Award went to Living Green Designer Homes; the Retailer of the Year was Roses 2 Go; the Employer of the Year was Open Shutters; the Marketer of the Year was Lake Haven Shopping Centre; the Home Based Business of the Year was Inspire Success; the Small/Medium Business of the Year was North Construction; the Large Business of the Year was ACS Integrated Service Provider; the Rising Star Award went to Sam Yeats from the Ultra Serve computer business—who actually advertised a job as he received his award that evening; the Manufacturer of the Year was FITT Resources; the award for Outstanding Contribution by a CEO went to Warren Hughes, who I have spoken about; and the Business of the Year was ACS Integrated Service Provider. With such incredible success amongst our local businesses, we have a fine future ahead in terms of employment of local people, and I expect that that great innovation that they showed there will continue into the future.

Main Committee adjourned at 13:01