Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
Assistant Treasurer
Minister for Housing
Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing
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Recognising the Ringwood Chamber

Small businesses are the backbone of our country, so it is with great pleasure tonight that I acknowledge the hardworking members of an important small-business network in my electorate of Deakin. The Ringwood Chamber of Commerce and Industry has played a critical role over the past six decades in bringing together businesses to share ideas, lobby for their interests and promote Ringwood as a great place to do business. Today, the chamber is ably led by its president, Peter Milford, who is from Aughtersons Solicitors. Peter has worked tirelessly to improve the health and wellbeing of businesses in Ringwood as well as the community more broadly.

I also pay tribute to some notable members of the chamber, each of whom employ local men and women, and operate viable and successful local businesses. This includes Neil and Margaret Mulcahy of Daisy’s Garden Supplies, who have built up their business from scratch and now employ approximately 60 people. That is 60 families who benefit from the employment provided by Daisy’s. There is Richard Carter, the Managing Director of Carter Real Estate and the third generation of his family to hold that position. He is a prominent figure in our community whose family and business have had an enduring connection with the chamber since its inception. I also pay tribute to Fedia and Laura Slussareff from Alfatron, which has been designing and manufacturing a wide range of data interface products since 1979. Fedia is a former chamber president who provides internationally competitive manufacturing jobs in the heart of Ringwood. The Deakin electorate was fortunate to have the Prime Minister visit Alfatron last year to see one of our manufacturing success stories.

Indeed, I pay tribute to all involved with the chamber for contributing to its vibrancy and for helping create the business and community environment that Ringwood now enjoys. In one of my earliest interactions with the chamber, I was shocked to hear that the former Labor member for Deakin had not sought to meet with chamber members and he had not attended any of the chamber’s functions during his six years representing the electorate. Small businesses are the backbone of our country and, in contrast with the former member for Deakin, I am wholly committed to doing everything I can to support the small businesses of Deakin.

A great deal has changed in the suburb of Ringwood since the chamber of commerce and industry was first established, including many significant changes that have recently occurred or are on the horizon. To borrow the Maroondah City Council’s slogan, Ringwood is going places. I had the pleasure of visiting Eastland shopping centre last October, when the centre’s owner, Queensland Investment Corporation, announced the start of a $575 million retail expansion. The redevelopment is now well underway and will create some 1,600 jobs during the construction phase and a further 1,700 jobs in retail. The expansion is helping to revitalise the suburb. Maroondah City Council have also committed to a new town square and state-of-the-art library. Work is scheduled to start this year on the coalition state government’s $66 million upgrade to the Ringwood station and bus interchange. There are numerous other office, residential and retail developments underway, all of which will draw more people to the area and boost business. It has taken time for the Ringwood area to grow but growing it is, and the Ringwood chamber has played a central role in this process, successfully lobbying for projects such as the Ringwood station upgrade.

The final piece in the puzzle is the East West Link, which will make life easier not only for Deakin residents to reach the Ringwood hub but for people from across Melbourne to visit, work and shop in the Ringwood area. Putting the innumerable other benefits to one side for a moment, the coalition government’s $1.5 billion commitment to building the East West Link is most definitely a vote of confidence in the future of Ringwood. Let me finish by acknowledging once again the members of the Ringwood Chamber of Commerce and Industry and their strong contribution to our community. Unlike the former member, I am dedicated and committed to helping the chamber grow Ringwood, grow their businesses and create opportunities for the next generation.