HUMBLE PIE COMPANY RELOCATION
Mr D. L. PAGE
(Ballina) [4.54 p.m.]: I wish to raise the plight of the Humble Pie Company at Billinudgel, the second largest employer in the Byron shire. The company is on the verge of having to relocate its operations to Queensland, with the loss of 43 jobs. Humble Pie Company may be known to members of this House, because more than 200,000 people visit its retail outlet each year and 80 per cent of those are tourists. They, like me, may even have enjoyed one of their wonderful pies. The Humble Pie Company has been in business for 17 years. During that time, owner Diedre McGuire has built a landmark manufacturing, retail and tourist facility.
Unfortunately, the proposed Pacific Highway upgrade between Brunswick Heads and Yelgun will go right over the top of the Humble Pie site. Furthermore, there will be no direct access to the Humble Pie site. This is an absolute tragedy for the Humble Pie business; it is a tragedy for its owner Diedre McGuire, who unfortunately has now lost her sight; it is a tragedy for its 43 employees, many of whom have been with the company for 17 years; it is a tragedy for their families; and of course it is not good news for the Humble Pie Company’s 200,000 customers. Of course, there are also a large number of other local businesses that service the Humble Pie Company - electricians, suppliers, etcetera. The local hotelier is quoted in the local newspaper as saying that the number of people the Humble Pie Company attracts to Billinudgel from the highway is "just incredible".
In short, the Humble Pie Company is a very important business in Byron shire. In the absence of a solution to the company’s current problems, it will be forced to relocate to Queensland. The Roads and Traffic Authority [RTA] has consistently refused to put access ramps from the new highway directly into and out of Billinudgel. Consequently, if people want to get to Billinudgel or access the Humble Pie Company they would either have to leave the highway at Brunswick Heads to the south or Yelgun in the north, neither of which is very likely.
Early in discussions with the RTA it was suggested that a site of equal status for the Humble Pie Company could be on the Pacific Highway
northern interchange, just north of Billinudgel. While lacking the atmosphere and environment of the current site, it would provide the one remaining alternative option. However, the previous Byron Shire Council voted not to allow development on the Pacific Highway interchange, although this decision was not taken with the Humble Pie Company in mind. Had the Humble Pie Company been under consideration for the site, the decision may well have been different. Indeed, the new council, which was recently elected, is almost certain to take a totally different view from the old council if the Humble Pie Company retail outlet were to be the proponent.
I have no doubt that, based on its history, if the Humble Pie Company were able to relocate its retail outlet onto the 2.5 hectares at the interchange, the relocated retail and tourist facility, reflecting the architectural and environmental standards of that company, would continue to be a source of pride to the shire. Diedre McGuire has also offered to expand her voluntary role by providing a specialised Byron Shire Tourist Information Centre and regional gallery which would be located at the northern gateway to the shire. She has received the support of key organisations, including the region’s Northern Rivers Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Regional Tourism Organisations. Both have written to the Government to voice their concerns.
I am also advised that a petition in support of the Humble Pie Company, which has only been circulating for three weeks, has already attracted more than 2,600 signatures. Clearly there is very strong support from the local community for the Humble Pie Company to continue to have a presence in Byron shire. Humble Pie Company’s manufacturing premises can remain where they are. All that is required to solve the problem is for the RTA to give in-principle support for the Humble Pie Company to be able to relocate its retail outlet to the northern interchange and for Byron council to support this action.
If the RTA and Byron Shire Council are not prepared to allow the Humble Pie Company to build an environmentally sensitive and attractive retail outlet at the northern interchange, they will be held responsible for the loss of 43 jobs in the shire, the loss of numerous indirect jobs and the relocation of a long-established and employment-generating business to Queensland from northern New South Wales. I appeal to the Minister for Roads and Transport to direct the RTA to re-examine the Humble Pie situation with a view to providing in-principle support for development on the northern interchange. I call on Byron Shire Council to provide the approvals necessary to keep Humble Pie Company in Byron shire.