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John rolls up his sleeves

Thursday, 30th July, 2009

Local MP John Williams spent a day behind the counter in Argent Street businesses yesterday as part of the 'Pollies for Small Business' program.

The program is run by the NSW Business Chamber and is designed to provide politicians with a better grasp of what is involved in running a small business.

President of Business Broken Hill, John Groenendijk, said it was essential that politicians understood small businesses.

"Small business plays a key role in providing jobs for local communities, so it's vital that decision-makers understand how the laws and regulations they create impact upon business," he said.

"From pulling a beer, to making sandwiches, serving coffee, planting trees or working in a mechanic's shop, we'll make them roll up their sleeves and get to work. It's a terrific way for MPs to see a small business first hand."

Mr Williams got the small business experience by spending some time crafting leather goods in Outback Whips and Leather before moving on to serve customers down the street at Thom, Dick and Harry's.

He said a recent tour of the Murray-Darling region had enabled him to view and appreciate the work done in small businesses around the electorate.

"So far I've been to two businesses in Deniliquin, one in Hay, and now two in Broken Hill... and obviously running a small business has got plenty of challenges," he said.

"Generally the businesses I've been into are feeling the pinch of the drought and the global financial crisis, but in reality they're probably doing very well under the circumstances."

Mr Williams formerly ran a car dealership in the city, and he said he was familiar with the importance of good service.

"Customer service is about making sure the customer is happy with the goods you're supplying and they meet their needs - and service with a smile," he said.

"The customer service aspect of my life hasn't changed a great deal because it pretty well continues in my role as a politician. The level of service I provide a constituent is no different than why I'd need to supply a customer of my business."

Mr Williams was one of 80 State and Federal politicians who took part in the program across NSW.

Stephen Cartwright, CEO of the NSW Business Chamber, said with much of the focus often on the big picture issues, some politicians can at times lose sight of the concerns of small business.

"Pollies for Small Business puts MPs at the coalface and gives business owners the chance to raise their concerns directly with their local MP. During a global recession this opportunity has never been more important," he said.

"This is a great program. It helps businesspeople and MPs understand each other better and we should encourage and support any measures that can help achieve that."

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