darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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December 10, 2010

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says the combined impacts of online shopping and travelling to Melbourne to buy Christmas presents is threatening the long-term viability of small businesses in the Latrobe Valley.

Mr Chester and State MP Russell Northe are joining forces to promote the benefits of shopping locally to help create jobs in the region.

“When you shop locally you help to create jobs in the Latrobe Valley. If you shop online or in Melbourne, the money goes straight out of our region and it’s never seen again,” Mr Chester said.

“There’s been a lot of media coverage in recent weeks about the unfair playing field for local small businesses competing with internet based organisations which are threatening jobs in small retail outlets.

“Under current tax laws, items which are purchased overseas with a value of less than $1000 are not subject to the GST which makes it very difficult for local businesses to compete with imported goods.

“It’s an issue that I have raised with the Treasurer on behalf of several local business owners who have raised their concerns over the impact it is having on their bottom line.

“There is a need for a review of the system with a view towards reducing the GST threshold for imported products purchased on the internet to allow local businesses to compete.”

Mr Northe said the ‘Putting Locals First’ message initiated by The Nationals is aimed at increasing community support for local businesses so that young people in particular have the chance to stay and work in regional areas.

“If we expect our small businesses to donate goods to our local community and sporting organisations and support other fundraising initiatives, it only makes sense to support them by purchasing goods locally whenever possible,” Mr Northe said.

“I’m not saying that we should never buy products online or shop in Melbourne but we need to recognise the impact those decisions will have on the future of our region.”

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