Mr DAVID CAMPBELL (Keira—Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Illawarra, and Minister for Small Business) [4.14 p.m.]: I move:
That this House supports home-based businesses and recognises their growing importance to the New South Wales economy.
The home-based business sector is booming, primarily because new technology means that for many people it does not matter where they work. This has been a tremendous revolution for people who find working at home helps maximise their productivity and, in many cases, care for a family. Many workers toy with the idea of working from home—we can thank the television series Sea Change for inspiring us to rethink the way we work—and I am pleased to report that for many this option is becoming increasingly successful. It is no accident that the Government is targeting home-based businesses and putting in place programs to help them succeed.
Overseas studies have recognised the rise of what Richard Florida, the analyst and best-selling author, calls the "creative classes"—businesses and workers who innovate and create. We are talking not only about artists but also engineers. Richard Florida contends, in effect, that communities that embrace new ideas and embrace their creative classes are often the most economically successful. More often than not, these new businesses are home-based businesses; they are not constrained by the traditional methods of operations. Mr Florida is currently in Australia, and I look forward to hearing him speak tomorrow.
The Government embraces innovation and new ways of operating businesses. By doing this, we are supporting the way people want to do business, and also promoting new ideas and innovative ways to build on our economy. However, it is vital that people who contemplate setting up a home-based business realise that it is a lot of hard work and it has particular challenges. That is why the New South Wales Government is assisting home-based business operators to turn their dream into a reality. We have taken a number of important and well-targeted steps to foster the growth potential of this sector in New South Wales.
Support focuses on assisting home-based businesses to build networks, enhance their business and management skills, develop growth strategies, and gain improved access to business information through a number of exciting initiatives. I note that the honourable member for Penrith is in the Chamber, and I acknowledge her support for the concept. In 2001 we supported a home-based business pilot program in Penrith. This pilot program emphasised networking, because research showed that home-based business people had distinctive issues about isolation, the lack of access to business networks, and the lack of awareness of available government and other programs and resources.
Workers in a traditional workplace probably do not realise how important it is to bounce ideas off colleagues, and to provide feedback and support. People who work from home rarely have access to that important resource—other workers—and isolation can be a major problem. We chose Penrith for the pilot program, first, because we wanted to support the enthusiasm of Penrith City Council for its local entrepreneurs and, second, because Penrith had more than 5,000 home-based businesses from a diverse range of industry sectors. The pilot marked the birth of the Penrith valley home-based business network. It also led to a range of initiatives, including business workshops and a peer support program for home-based businesses in the Lower Hunter region.
In Sydney, there were seminars aimed at home-based creative media businesses which helped them with networking, entrepreneurship, marketing skills and intellectual property management. In the Central West there was a program to help home-based art and tourism industries identify possible joint marketing strategies and develop marketing networks and strategic alliances. More recently, at various locations across the State we have run special workshops for home-based business operators. To date those workshops have been held in Tweed Heads, Western Sydney, South Sydney and Sutherland, with workshops planned for the Illawarra, the Blue Mountains and Port Macquarie.
Madam ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Marie Andrews): Order! It being after 4.15 p.m., business is interrupted for the taking of private members' statements.