'Whanganui a destination in itself,' says minister

By Emma Russell

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Minister for Small Business Jacqui Dean speaking at Whanganui War Memorial Hall. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Minister for Small Business Jacqui Dean speaking at Whanganui War Memorial Hall. Photo/ Bevan Conley

Whanganui is no longer a petrol stop town, it's a destination in itself.

That was the message from Minister of Small Business Jacqui Dean when she visited Whanganui on Friday on tour with the Government Support for Business roadshow.

The minister, who was born in Palmerston North, said she saw a lot of similarities between Whanganui and South Island town Oamaru, where she now lives.

"Oamaru was a stop-over town to fill up on petrol and now it's a destination in itself because it used its strengths like tourism and farming to grow.

"Whanganui, I think, is very similar."

Ms Dean visited four Whanganui businesses on Friday morning, among them were Wanganui Auto Wreckers, AMF Boat Company, On Call Central (OCC) and Paua.

OCC owner Graeme Musson, who started his business 15 months ago, said he found the minister very encouraging.

"My business helps people who are unemployed or looking for causal employment find work," he said.

"The minister congratulated me and offered a range of support options ... I found her visit very useful and will be using the resources in the future."

Ms Dean said many of the difficulties they were hearing in dealing with government agencies were finding staff and certain misconceptions around new legislation.

"We have Immigration here today and business owners will have opportunity to speak one-on-one with them and be put in touch with the appropriate people.

"There is also a lot of uncertainty about Worksafe with the introduction of new legislation which does require employers to take responsibility, and they are becoming more fearful than need to be," Ms Dean said.

"We are working very hard to address those misconceptions."

She also confronted areas to help improve retail.

"E-commerce and the use of Facebook and having an online presence is becoming more and more important."

She said the local council also had a role to play in retail to maintain and uplift the standards of streets, ensuring things like adequate parking and public toilets were available.

More than 90 people attended the roadshow at the War Memorial Hall, and presentations were given by Inland Revenue, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Worksafe, ACC, the Labour Inspectorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Immigration and the Ministry of Social Development.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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