Newsagent Bill Kirkwood shows the ropes to MP Thomas George in his Murwillimbah newsagency.
Newsagent Bill Kirkwood shows the ropes to MP Thomas George in his Murwillimbah newsagency. Peter Caton/ Tweed Daily News

MP slips behind the counter

MURWILLUMBAH newsagent Bill Kirkwood yesterday got an unexpected opportunity to “vent his spleen” against the impact of state government decisions on small business.

Mr Kirkwood, who runs the Murwillumbah newsagency in the town's main street, agreed to give State MP Thomas George a job behind the counter for 90 minutes as part of an annual programme which sees politicians spending time working in small business.

“For me to make an appointment to go and see Thomas about the things we spoke about today, I probably wouldn't do it,” said Mr Kirkwood.

One of the major issues he raised, while Mr George assisted in serving customers, was the effect on businesses like his of new tobacco legislation which requires retailers to make major changes over the 12 months to next July.

The changes include putting tobacco products out of site and only selling them from one cash register.

“The whole of that legislation affects the small business owner and doesn't affect the end user. Nor does it affect the government,” Mr Kirkwood said.

“There are just little things like we can only sell cigarettes from one cash register, which can make a big difference.”.

The new law will mean an expensive renovation for Mr Kirkwood in a small business where it is difficult to recoup those costs.

“In this type of business there are very few line we can increase the purchase price on to offset the costs. All that happens is we finish up going further down,” he said.

Mr George said his 90 minutes behind the counter had “certainly been an experience”.

“What's impressed me is the efficient manner in which the business is run and it's a family-based business.”

Meanwhile Mr George's National Party colleague, Tweed MP Geoff Provest spent part of his morning behind the counter at Banora Point Caltex petrol station, before moving on to the Donut King stall at Tweed City shopping centre.

“This gives me a chance to back Tweed small business and hear their concerns in these very difficult economic times,” Mr Provest said.

“The financial crisis doesn't just affect the big end of town.”

“Small business people bear the brunt of the reduced income, particularly since they are more reluctant than bigger companies to shed staff.”



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