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Freedom of Choice

3/September/2021

It can be difficult to trust when you have gone through a season of people trying to take advantage of your recovery journey and use your weakness for their own benefit.

It is exciting when you connect to people whom you can trust to have your back. It is even more exciting to think about what you can build when you find the right people with whom to build. 

Being involved in your local Chamber of Commerce is important to help you find your community within the business world. It does not matter whether you are working in a city or a rural community, you will be successful when you find your community and the people to work alongside you who will have your back. However, it is far from positive when you become part of a business community and you watch businesses have each other’s backs to the exclusion of your own. 

I know that I have spoken about the negatives of being considered a new member of the community who is not ‘local’, resulting in being excluded from the support that is required to be a member of a business community. 

I am a Tully ‘local’, as I was born into a three-generation cane farming family.   I have been supported by my hometown through my struggles after my accident despite the people who attempted to take advantage of my injury.  It was only as I expanded the reach of my newspaper to include my partner’s community in its coverage that I truly understood the stories people had shared with me regarding their feelings of being excluded when you are not considered ‘local.’ By telling me these stories, people wanted me to understand why our shops were empty and that, as a ‘local’, I was one of the reasons for this occurring. 

My partner has ‘local’ status in my current hometown, but he is not often present in my company as he is a cane farmer, so therefore a lot of people were not aware of this until more recently.  

It has been a tough season and I share this is so that we can grow as a community and challenge ourselves to ensure that our communities do, indeed grow, and not atrophy.  

Embrace the people who want to build businesses in our communities.  We need to attract more people to live and participate in and develop our hometowns. 

That does not mean we should not seek out quality of product and service. Having lived in Sydney for a long time, I could walk into a shopping centre and in one store you would see lots of people buying their products and right next door you would see an empty shop that would soon close.  The difference between the empty shop and the busy shop was one had quality products and excellent service, and the other did not.  

The stories that have been shared with me are of two shops with similar products in the community being opened, one from a person not considered ‘local’ and one from a ‘local,’ but, despite the lack of quality product in the ‘local’ person’s business, it was the one being supported whilst the outsider who was producing a quality product was driven out of town.  Leaving us with a ‘local’ business that is overpriced and lacks quality, so instead of shopping local people will now go and shop in the closest city. 

I am for supporting local businesses.  I want to support local businesses that have quality products and provide excellent service.  I do not want to support a business just because I have a connection to the family if I know I am not getting a quality product and am being charged above market value for such a product.  

We live in a democratic society not a monarchy.  We have and should exercise freedom of choice applied in a reasoned way. These small steps at what makes democracy successful and small towns thrive and remain socially cohesive.

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