Cr Debrah Novak.
Cr Debrah Novak. Tim Howard

Ostwald collapse hitting locals hard

ALL councillor Debrah Novak wants for Christmas is for people to spare a thought for the local businesses impacted by Ostwald Brothers' voluntary administration.

At last week's Clarence Valley Council meeting, Cr Novak put forward a notice of motion asking for people to support the 23 businesses impacted.

"These are not faceless, global companies but well-known, respected, local family-operated businesses who are paying their taxes and it is an absolute disgrace this issue has been allowed to fester and continue to hurt these Clarence Valley small businesses for so long," she said.

"The emotional and physical impacts are already being felt, with marriages breaking down, families being torn apart, an increase in mental health issues and employees losing their jobs.

"The human cost behind this story is gut-wrenching and could have been avoided, that is the tragedy."

Cr Novak said people had allowed this issue to continue unchecked when everything was supposed to be in place to support the subcontractors on the Glenugie to Tyndale section of the highway.

Cr Novak was critical of Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Member for Page Kevin Hogan, who she said had turned away and not done enough to assist those people in need.

But Mr Gulaptis said, unfortunately, they had to follow the legal process.

"That legal process can't be informed and can't be interfered with," he said.

"Until we know what the outcome of the administrator's findings are, we don't know where things went foul.

"I absolutely understand and sympathise with the subcontractors who are impacted by this, especially in the lead-up to Christmas... but there is nothing I can do."

Mr Gulaptis said without all the information, it was premature to say the government should step in.

"We do need to put protective measures in place, but it's very hard to put measures in place to stop a private company going belly-up," Mr Gulaptis said.

"If there were ways and means, certainly, I'd like to know what they are so I can recommend them to the government to employ.

"Everyone wants the same thing, it's just a question of achieving that."

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