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MCCI Joins Chamber Alliance Program

We’re pleased to announce that the MCCI will be joining the NSW Business Chamber’s Chamber Alliance Program.

The Chamber Alliance Program has been developed by the NSW Business Chamber to strengthen the relationship between State, Regional and Local Chambers of Commerce of Commerce within NSW.

As a member of MCCI, you can become an Associate Member, at no cost, of both Hunter & NSW Business Chambers, gaining many benefits and entitlements which will assist you in business.

Read more: MCCI Joins Chamber Alliance Program

Shop Local Campaign

The idea of ‘Buying Locally’ is not new. We have talked about it over many years and most small towns have had a campaign to increase local trade at some time or another. In Muswellbrook, we have been talking about it for a long time and in recent times it has become more of a focus for the Chamber.

Over the last couple of years we have had close contact with some of the larger organisations in our Shire and been active in helping to formulate and promote local buying programs. The BHP C-Res program is a good example of this and, although relatively new, it is providing opportunities to local businesses which did not exist previously. There are other examples as well with most mining companies and the Council having local procurement high on their priority list. There are also many small to medium businesses who consistently look for opportunities to buy locally. This is all good but we believe there is room for improvement and that is why we are launching our –


Read more: Shop Local Campaign

Upper Hunter Wine Region is World Class

our region

This month's breakfast was held at The Remington Motor Inn on Tuesday 4th August 2015. Our Guest Speakers were:

  • The Remington Motor Inn - Grant Gill
  • James Estate - Graeme Scott
  • Two Rivers - Brett Keeping

We asked these members to tell us about how they've managed to create innovation within their business and to expand whilst competing in a difficult business climate and this is what they had to say:

Read more: Upper Hunter Wine Region is World Class

BHP Billiton Mt Arthur Coal apologise

Image from Newcastle HeraldBHP Billiton Mt Arthur Coal has accepted responsibility for the February 2014 blast event which caused community concern by pleading guilty to an offence of omitting an offensive odour in the Land and Environment Court. The Company also apologises to the community for the incident.

The blast event generated fume and odour which was carried outside the mine's premises, to the adjoining Thomas Mitchell Drive industrial estate.

Xavier Wagner, Mt Arthur Coal's General Manager of Open Cut Operations, said the company regrets any impacts caused by the event and continues to work to improve its blasting activities.

You can download the official press release here:

Mt Arthur Press Release 30 July 2015 (pdf)

Please note, if you, or your employees have any health concerns relating to Mine Blast Fumes, the NSW Health has put together a fact sheet which available as a PDF from their website. You can download the fact sheet from the following link:

Mine Blast Fumes and You (pdf format) 

Semester 2 TAFE Enrollments now open

Semester 2 Enrollments for Business Administration courses are now open at the Muswellbrook Campus.


Read more: Semester 2 TAFE Enrollments now open

Bengalla Mine UPdate











The future is looking good according to Jo-Anne Scarini, General Manager of Bengalla Mining Company.

Ms Scarini was our Guest Speaker during our July breakfast held Tuesday 7th July at the Muswellbrook Race Club.

Ms Scarini provided some insight to our Members and Guests about the following topics as seen by Bengalla:

  • The future outlook of the mine,
  • Environmental and Community initiatives
  • Dry Creek Diversion project

Read more: Bengalla Mine UPdate

FREE Payroll Workshop

NSW IR Payroll workshopIs Payroll compliance causing you headaches?

NSW Industrial Relations are coming to Muswellbrook RSL to provide a FREE workshop to local businesses and aims to demystify payroll compliance.

Date: 16th July  

Time: 9:30 am  - 1:00 pm

Venue: Muswellbrook RSL

Workshop topics to be covered include:

Read more: FREE Payroll Workshop

2015 Hunter Manufacturing Awards NOW OPEN

2015 HMA logoThe Hunter Manufacturing Awards (HMA) has been showcasing the manufacturing capabilities of the Hunter region for the past 10 years.

Collaboratively working with key regional organisations, HMA highlights the achievements of Regional Manufacturers and the overall importance of manufacturing to our economy in general.

The HMA is designed to acknowledge the significance of the Region's proud manufacturing history and is committed to ensuring manufacturing continues to play an integral role in invigorating the Region's Future.

The 2015 HMA awards is a perfect opportunity for you to showcase and raise the profile of your manufacturing business in the Hunter Region.

Applications close 14th August 2015 

Read more: 2015 Hunter Manufacturing Awards NOW OPEN

2015 Federal Budget







On 15th May, the Federal Government Budget announced many incentives for Small businesses and also, several changes required for compliance that will come into effect 1 July 2015. 


Local Tax Accountant Gowing & Co have prepared a summary of how your business can take advantage of recently approved small business incentives from the May 2015 Federal Government budget, and what changes to compliance for the 2016 financial year you need to be aware of.

Read more: 2015 Federal Budget

May 2015 Breakfast UPdate: Small Business Connect








Our May breakfast was held at the Muswellbrook Workers Club where we were able to experience the new menu which was a delight! 

Hunter Region's Small Biz Connect Advisor and Trainer, Colin Merrick from Newcastle Business Centre presented the opportunities available to the small business community within our region.

With over 25 years experience in Marketing and Management of retail businesses and shopping centres, Colin is a highly experienced small business advisor and trainer. 

Colin presented to the members of the Muswellbrook Chamber some insight and examples of:

  • how to register for business opportunities with the State government, how to find grants you may be eligible for,
  • How he can assist you to identify target markets,
  • How he can complete diagnostic reports on your business and
  • how to benchmark your business against others in your industry.

Colin has many resources available to him to help provide the best advice relevant to your business. For example, if you were looking to start up a retail white-goods business, he has resources that helps him identify what products are being bought in our area, and at what price range.

It was really useful to see the practical applications of the data he has available to him, provided by the State Government and Australian Bureau of Statistics through reports such as IBIS reports.

Read more: May 2015 Breakfast UPdate: Small Business Connect

Our Region under a Microscope

  Hunter researchAs part of the Upper Hunter Coal Festival, we hosted the Hunter Research Foundation to present their findings from the last six months. This event was sponsored by Coal and Allied, and brought this opportunity to our community for free.

Insights into where we've been, where we are going and what is happening in our Upper Hunter community. There were plenty of opportunities presented - with ways to combat some significant and critical issues such as Youth Unemployment in our region. 

Presentations and questions from an expert panel were critical to our continued understanding of our Regional Economic landscape. 

Read more: Our Region under a Microscope

Imagine what you could do with some FREE business advice

 Small-Biz-Connect-MuswellbrookThe State Government Small Biz Connect Program allows any small business to obtain FREE business advice on many issues. 

Worried you might be too big or too long established or it isn't relevant for your business in order to have access to this program?

If you have less than 15 employees and sales smaller than $2m per year, then you are entitled to access the government's Small Business Connect program. 

It doesn't matter whether you're starting out, been in business for a while, or you have a business idea or problem that you wouldn't mind a bit of help with from a trusted Advisor.

Read more: Imagine what you could do with some FREE business advice

Are penalty rates crippling your Retail or Hospitality business?

 Open but short staffed  Penalty Rates too highAs you might already know, the Easter long weekend is a particularly difficult time for many small business members in the hospitality and retail sectors. Over this period you may battle with excessive penalty rates if you want to keep your doors open.

High penalty rates close doors and reduce job opportunities 

From NSW Business Chamber's research on this matter, it seems that there are basically five scenarios:

Read more: Are penalty rates crippling your Retail or Hospitality business?

PRESS RELEASE - Bengalla Approval Welcomed

The announcement today, 4th March 2015, by the NSW Department of Planning & Environment approving the Bengalla Continuation Project, is welcomed by the Muswellbrook business community.

Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce & Industry President, Mike Kelly said, "The Bengalla mine is a major contributor to our local economy and it’s continuation is vital to the four hundred(400) people employed there and the local businesses that rely on Bengalla for continued operations."

"The Bengalla Mining Company has operated since 1998 with an excellent record of environmental, health & safety management. Their commitment to local procurement and support of community organisations and projects is exemplary. The approval to continue operations to 2039, is not only well deserved but, is absolutely imperative for the stability and growth of the Upper Hunter and the broader economy."

The Muswellbrook Chamber has supported this project from its inception with submissions to NSW Department of Planning & Environment in October, 2013 and to the Planning & Assessment Commission in December, 2014. On receipt of the announcement today, Mike Kelly said, "this is very encouraging for local business with the expectation of hundreds of new construction jobs and the growth of the Bengalla permanent workforce to meet  increased production levels. This growth, as well as Bengallas annual contributions to their Community Fund and to Muswellbrook Shire Council for road works and Environmental Management, is most welcome. It is a great ‘shot in the arm’ for Muswellbrook."

"The Chamber trusts that the five (5) schedules and some seventy nine (79) consent conditions will protect the environment and neighbouring property owners. By continued  worlds’ best practice,  this mine can provide employment and economic growth in co-operation and co- existence with other industries and land users."

"The Chamber congratulates Bengalla and thanks the NSW Government for the approval of this State Significant Project."


Are you Board Ready?

Board Course Scholarships

The Institute of Australian Company Directors in conjunction with the Australian Government currently has a Diversity Scholarship available for executive women in growing industry sectors. 

Designed to drive a rapid increase in the number of women on boards and fostering emerging female talent in growth sectors, this program includes 40 scholarships for candidates to complete: 

*** The Institute of Australian Company Directors Foundations of Directorship & the Company Directors Course;

*** Successful candidates will also receive 12 months membership to the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

This is an opportunity not to be missed!

Read more: Are you Board Ready?

NBN over 5 years away

NBN studies

The Chamber Board has been advised that Muswellbrook does not appear on the 5 year NBN plan. This means that the NBN won't be arriving in Muswellbrook within the next 5 years (unless it is a new housing estate) and that no more ADSL2 connections will be made available to local business.

Conversely, we've been told that our neighbouring towns are on the 5 year plan. This means a lower competitive advantage for our members compared to similar businesses in different townships.

We believe that this is not good enough.

Read more: NBN over 5 years away

2015 Theme: Innovate and Grow!

Innovate & GrowIn 2014, we were fortunate with opportunities such as the Sirroli Foundation and Social Media training. These opportunities inspired our members to think outside the box. As a Chamber, we've identified the need for diversification of our industries and strongly believe that through innovation we can collectively grow our businesses. So, we came up with a "Theme" for 2015 being "Innovate and Grow" to further develop this discussion.

Recently, we have heard great news of several innovative strategies of local businesses.

Read more: 2015 Theme: Innovate and Grow!

February 2015: Meet the Candidates

Feb15 Breakfast

Our Meet the Candidates February breakfast meeting was an opportunity for our State Election candidates to address topics relevant to our Business Community, including our Hospital, Rail Line, reforms to the Coal-Mining Planning process and the Muswellbrook by-pass. Candidates included Lee Watts (Independent), Martin Rush (Labor), Michael Johnsen (Nationals), John Kaye (Greens), and Richard Stretton (Christian Democratic Party).

Read more: February 2015: Meet the Candidates

Women in Mining 2015 Mentor Program


Women in the resources sector looking for career guidance and direction have the opportunity to meet their mentor match through the WIMnet NSW Mentoring Program 2015.

The inaugural program, which will run May to September 2015, will provide participants with a structured and sustainable mentoring process aimed at benefitting mentors and mentees.

Read more: Women in Mining 2015 Mentor Program

Want to know what is happening in Muswellbrook?

You can sign up for e-news from Muswellbrook Shire Council by going to Council’s website www.muswellbrook.nsw.gov.au and clicking on the link where you can indicate whether you want to hear about:

  • Council Notices
  • What’s On
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre
  • Muswellbrook Library News and Events

2016 BUSINESS AWARDS Entries Close: 24th March 2017

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