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Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Page: 115


Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (10:41): In 1968, a group of parents in my hometown of Cessnock got together to ensure that their children with disability had a working future—that their children wouldn't be left alone on some form of benefit, sitting idle. Rather, they would have an opportunity to make a positive contribution to our economy and community. Thus was born an organisation known as Endeavour Industries, first as a laundromat then in later years as a packing shed and a provider of services to mow lawns and do gardening in people's homes. For 50 years that operation has been in place, and everyone who lives in Cessnock knows someone who works at Endeavour Industries, has become a friend to someone who works at Endeavour Industries and enjoys banter with someone who has worked there for many years—like Nick, who I see at the gym on a regular basis. He brightens my day every time I go there, because of his positive attitude to life, despite the very significant challenges he faces.

Sadly, Endeavour Industries has just gone into voluntary administration. As a result, 131 people will lose their jobs, most of them people with disability. Governments can't do anything about a situation like this—when a company goes into voluntary administration. It's like any other company. This one is a very special company, in that it employs people with disability, but the rules are the same and there is not much we can do but reflect on the sadness of management over the years getting it so wrong. I think the administrator is doing a pretty good job, trying, in the first instance, to have it continue as a going concern, but that looks like it's not going to be successful.

Thankfully, the assets are enough to ensure that both creditors and employees receive all the entitlements they have coming their way. But our key focus now has to be on placing those people into alternative employment. I want to make a pledge to my local community that I will work with the administrator, the NDIA and other organisations who employ people with disability in our region to ensure those people can be placed. I rose today to express my sadness and reflect on the work of so many good people at Endeavour over so many years, both those who were employed and former board and management members, and, again, to make that pledge to my community: working with the mayor and the local state member, we will do all we can to ensure that those people have a working future.