28 October 2015

Ms TRISH DOYLE (Blue Mountains): On Friday 23 October 2015 I attended the ninth annual Blue Mountains Business Awards presentation night at the Fairmont Resort in Leura. I was a guest of the Blue Mountains Regional Business Chamber at these awards, and I thank President Vent Thomas and Business Awards Manager Heather Shepherd for their efforts and energy in supporting business achievements and organising such a fabulous night. Almost 250 people attended the event, and they were in awe of the spectacular creativity and the glittering black-tie event that it was.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank each of the major sponsors: Blue Eco Homes, Premium sponsors; BlueMountainsAustralia.com; Nova Employment; Western Sydney Business Centre; Blue Mountains Gazette; Scenic World; Accounting and Taxation Advantage; Blue Mountains City Council; Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise; Bartons Real Estate; Office Choice; and 2LT Move FM. Our master of ceremonies for the awards was entertainer extraordinaire Daryl Lovegrove, who sings Nessun Dormaas though there is no tomorrow. The night began with a Welcome to Country from the talented and mesmerising Wagana Dancers, led by Jo Clancy. Musical interludes were provided by the energetic Blue Mountains Ukulele Group, known as the Blue MUGS. We were joined by the Mayor of our great City of Blue Mountains, Mark Greenhill. The council, councillors and council staff should be acknowledged for recently, and not at all surprisingly, being declared fit for the future as an astute local government entity. Our council is a major supporter of the business awards.

Award presentations featured the following categories and presenters, and I note each winner: Excellence in Innovation was presented by Steve Ticehurst to Graham Reibelt of Ask Roz; Customer Service was presented by Councillor Chris van der Kley to Stainless Steel Worx; Excellence in Business Ethics was presented by Jeffrey Donley to Merin Foran of Katoomba Veterinary Clinic; Business Services was presented by Mark Barton and Sharon Morgan to Michelle McKenzie and John Richards of Richards Financial Services; Hospitality was presented by Anthea and David Hammon to Clint Westerweele of Blue Mountains YHA; and Creative Industries was presented by Donald Luscombe to Amanda O'Bryan of Creative Queen Bees 3.

The New Business award was presented by Vent Thomas to Lawrence Baker and Jess Kingsford of Selwood House Veterinary Hospital; Retail Business was presented by Paul Sturgiss to Bruce Cash and Deb Campbell of Beaut-t-ful Bags in Winmalee; Excellence in Small Business was presented by Lawrence Atkinson to Rob Lees of Mortgage Choice; and Excellence in Sustainability was presented by Mayor Greenhill to Amanda Solomons and Simone Bateman of Rubyfruit. I was pleased to present the Employee of the Year award to Kylie McInerney of Blue Mountains YHA.

The Employee Inclusion Award was presented by Lynette White to Supa IGA Lloyd's of Springwood; Young Entrepreneur was presented by Susan Templeman to Amy Gent; Employer of Choice was presented by Frances Waddell to Bronwen Johnston of Blue Mountains YHA; Business Leader was presented by Geoff Starr of the NSW Business Chamber to Teresa Henson of Stainless Steel Worx; BlueMountainsAustralia.com Peoples' Choice Award was presented by Sylvia Ong to Robert Anderson and Glenn Puster from Katoomba's Avalon Restaurant. The coveted Harry Hammon Business of the Year Award was presented by Anthea and David Hammon to Stainless Steel Worx.

Special mention must be made of Lorraine Allanson of Mountain Whispers Luxury Accommodation for her well-deserved highly commended trifecta in the awards. Small business is the economic backbone of our communities. Small businesses and community organisations are the glue that holds our community together. It is community members who bolster one another, especially during tough times. As was noted at the awards evening, it was not the Government who stepped up in the aftermath of the fires to assist with recovery; it was those in the room—businesses and Blue Mountains folk—who supported one another. During the recovery period the Baird Government failed to support many struggling businesses by refusing to deliver the promised small business loans.

Our resilient Blue Mountains residents and businesses have come a long way since the 2013 bushfire emergency. They are stronger, but not without some scars. Many struggle to this day. That said, our community members rose to the challenge of encouraging one another; and they will continue to do so. This happens in a number of ways. For example, chambers of commerce across the Blue Mountains have initiated "shop local for Christmas" projects. These are vibrant, sustainable and supportive. I pay tribute today to our Blue Mountains Regional Business Chamber, all the sponsors involved in the Blue Mountains Business Awards, all the nominees and of course all those businesses that won awards. I thank them for their contribution to our local economy and to the fabric of our society. I congratulate them all.