Many of you would have read and seen the Future Northern Rivers initiative that we partnered on with the Northern Star, Regional Development Australia, the Joint Organisation (of Councils) and Southern Cross University involving Bernard Salt – who challenged us to be outrageously ambitious about the Future Northern Rivers.

Well I am pleased to say that we have really created some great momentum and hosted the first set of Think Tank sessions in early August with excellent results – and achievable outrageously ambitious ideas.

This is a very important initiative and we really need to ensure the people of 2040 don’t say things like ‘why didn’t the leaders in 2019 think ahead and set us up for success?’, ‘It’s obvious that this project should have started 20 years ago’ or ‘the Northern Rivers missed out because the leaders 20 years ago didn’t think big enough’.

If this is something you would like to be part of and contribute your ideas to, please email We would love to have you involved.
We want to celebrate your business and the people behind the business

The Northern Rivers Regional Business Awards are a great way to recognise business excellence across our region and are an opportunity for us to shine a light on the amazing people contributing to our economy.

The Northern Rivers Regional Business Awards Program is now open and closes Monday 9 September.

If you would like more information about the awards programs, please email our Northern Rivers Regional Coordinator Samantha Mearns via or go to the awards website and portal link to get started with your submission.

You may like to consider the following categories in relation to your business, or share with other businesses you believe are demonstrating excellence (and encourage them with a nomination):

  • Retail & Personal Services*
  • Trade, Construction & Manufacturing*
  • Business & Professional Services*
  • Health, Care & Wellness Industries*
  • Agriculture & Primary Industries*
  • Tourism & Visitor Experience*

*Local Chamber winners compete as finalists in Regional Awards but do not progress to the State Awards (all other category winner progress to Regional and State Awards)

  • Outstanding Young Employee (18-30 years old)
  • Outstanding Young Entrepreneur (18-30 years old)
  • Outstanding Business Leader (31+ years old)
  • Excellence in Micro Business (less than 5 employees)
  • Excellence in Small Business (6-20 employees)
  • Excellence in Business (21+ employees)
  • Excellence in Social Enterprise
  • Start Up Superstar
  • Excellence in Innovation
  • Excellence in Sustainability
  • Excellence in Export
  • Outstanding Employer of Choice

The awards process is a great way of doing an assessment of your business, how far you have come over the past 12 months (or longer), and celebrating your achievements. There is real value in celebrating the success of your team and their contribution to reaching business goals, by being acknowledged in the community.

Congratulations to our newly elected Northern Rivers Regional Advisory Council

Every two years, members are invited to nominate for a role on our Regional Advisory Council (RAC). The RAC is crucial to our policy and advocacy efforts, as each representative brings issues that impact on business growth and sustainability from across the region to the table.
We sincerely thank our outgoing Regional President, Gary Fox, for his leadership in driving key policy issues over the past two years – namely as a champion of the NBN service level guarantee and the fast tracking of State Government regional funding programs. Gary will continue on the RAC as the Vice President.

We also thank outgoing RAC members Tom Bowers, Josh Mills, Jolyon Burnett, Todd Sotheren, Debbie Smith and Zain Pert for their valued contribution towards advocacy for businesses in the Northern Rivers during their time on the RAC.

We welcome Cameron Arnold as the new Regional President and confirm the following representatives for NSW Business Chamber’s Northern Rivers Regional Advisory Council:

  • Cameron Arnold (Regional President) – Southern Cross Campus Services
  • Gary Fox (Regional Vice President) – Gary Fox Productions
  • Bev George – BG Accountants
  • Nicole Reeve – Sportspower Warehouse (Ballina, Lismore, Grafton)
  • Ross Roberts – Harwood Marine
  • Robert Blanchard – Blanchards Haulage
  • Tony Flack – TURSA
  • Kim Davis – Northcott
  • Sarah Smith – Lismore Toyota
  • Michael Thurston – Destination North Coast
  • Brendan Reeves – Clarence Canegrowers Association
  • Greg McNamarra – NORCO (State Council and Board Buddy)
  • Local Chamber representatives:
  • Glen Costello – Ballina Chamber of Commerce
  • Mark Humphries – Kingscliff & District Chamber of Commerce
  • John Wright – Evans Head Chamber of Commerce
  • Cathy Levins-Byres – Byron Bay Chamber of Commerce

If you have any questions about RAC or would like to discuss one of the casual vacancies now available please email

Proposed changes to the Luxury Car Tax

In the 2019-20 Federal Budget, the government announced it would provide further relief to farmers and tourism operators by amending the Luxury Car Tax (LCT) arrangements (up to a maximum of $10,000 for vehicles acquired on or after 1 July 2019). 

The current eligibility criteria and types of vehicles eligible for the current partial refund will remain unchanged, under the new arrangements. The proposed changes are outlined below:

Current law: Eligible primary producers and tourism operators are entitled to a partial refund of 8/33rds of the total LCT borne on eligible vehicles. This refund is capped at $3,000.

New law: Eligible primary producers and tourism operators will be entitled to a full refund of the total LCT borne on eligible vehicles. This refund is capped at $10,000.

As with all business decisions, please consult your professional advisors before making any decisions.

Exciting news hot off the press

A big congratulations to NSW Business Chamber’s law firm, Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors (ABLA), who have taken out the Workplace Relations and Employment Team of the Year Award at the prestigious Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards. 

ABLA provide members with the free workplace advice line and the provision of services related to compliance and Fair Work legislation. Many of you will have met Kate and/or Lillian who presented our Workplace Update Seminars over the past couple of years so you will know how proud we are of their work for our businesses in the region.

Yours in business


Jane Laverty – Regional Manager Northern Rivers, NSW Business Chamber