As part of that, I also value small business. It is a critical part of the economic and social fabric of so many regional centres and towns right across Australia, particularly in Forrest. The majority of small businesses are family owned and run. They are a major employer nationally and are the cornerstone of our society. And never forget: small business is a critical player in strengthening competition in the marketplace.
I also engage in trade practices and small business issues. My focus is on implementing and building on practical plans to create regional economic development, employment and social opportunities, making the south-west an even better place to live, to work, to invest, to raise a family, to enjoy recreation and to retire.
Significant growth in industry also requires regional infrastructure. The south-west is the source of many internationally renowned products.
The mining sector is the highest earner in the region, followed by forestry, agriculture-which includes horticulture and viticulture-and tourism. In fact, the south-west of Western Australia is an absolute and utter economic powerhouse. For example, we have major supplies of alumina, the world’s largest and highest-grade spodumene and the world’s largest tantalum deposit.
As a result, the Bunbury port is one of the busiest in the state. Investment in road and rail infrastructure is essential to facilitate proposed expansions in this resource sector-and, let’s face it, investing in Forrest is investing for Australia.