Jen gets down to business
THE small business owners of the region can rest assured that new Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard knows what you are going through.
She ran a small business herself for 15 years and is convinced that the Labor Party has the policies to stimulate small business and create jobs for the unemployed in Ipswich and throughout the state.
The future government of Queensland is still under a cloud, but when the QT sat down with Ms Howard after her state election win on Sunday she came across as an MP who both understands the business sector and intends to get the wheels of the economy turning.
"I had a small business with my former husband. It was a furniture removal business, and it grew after we started with a beautiful old Bedford truck we bought from a fellow in Blacksoil," she said.
"I had two small children so my husband did all the physical stuff, and we ran it from home and eventually it grew to seven trucks."
The business employed seven people and Ms Howard said she enjoyed giving young employees a go and seeing them go on to bigger and better things.
She said small business owners were a close knit bunch who understood each other's needs. But can Labor help small business in the current tough economic environment if it gains office?
"Absolutely," she said.
"We've proven that with the policies we have recently released. The old mythology that Labor isn't for small business has been blown out of the water by some of the programs that have been announced in the last few weeks.
"Right now we will introduce the payroll tax rebates (of $45 million over three years) for businesses to encourage them to take on apprentices and trainees.
"We are going to work on legislating against 100% fly-in, fly out (FIFO) projects in order to create more jobs in regional communities."
Some of the small businesses in those communities are struggling because Ms Howard said the FIFO workers "make their money in one place but spend it somewhere else".
Ms Howard said a Locals First program to support local contractors and suppliers through government purchasing and tendering would be a plus for Ipswich.
"That is a real direct help to small businesses. I know something like that would have been great for us in our business years ago," she said.
"Often local contractors and suppliers are competing with really established big contractors and a lot of times that money and the jobs aren't happening in your community. They are employed elsewhere."
The Labor Party would also institute a Business Development Fund which would provide $40 million over four years to assist proactive start-ups.
"It is a round table authority established to invest with start-up firms who want to turn their bright ideas into new products and create jobs. That is an excellent program," Ms Howard said.