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Stephen Cartwright. Stephen Cartwright.
28 July 2020 Posted by 

Stephen Cartwright, Business NSW chief exits while on top

ELIZABETH FRIAS 
STEPHEN Cartwright, the chief of Business NSW who drove many successful business-led campaigns is stepping down immediately this month after 11 years at the helm.
 
Former Board president, Nola Watson, a known steady hand within the 194-year-old peak organisation and an expert in both business and government, has been appointed interim CEO while the search for Mr Cartwright’s permanent replacement proceeds.
 
Mr Cartwright’s departure was confirmed on July 22, soon after Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the JobKeeper would be extended until December to continue the economic support for 3.5 million workers and 960,000 businesses affected by COVID-19 shutdown since March.
 
More than $16B has been paid to over 750,000 businesses to support their cash flow while 180,000 apprentices and trainees have been granted 50 per cent wage subsidy.
 
Business NSW has released its Back on Track COVID-19 Recovery Report calling for the extension of JobKeeper until businesses and workers relying on it for incomes were confident to resume operations without government’s financial backing.
 
The stark realities of the destructive effect of the pandemic on the business community has been revealed in the report, Mr Cartwright said, adding that: “the majority were unprepared and would be vulnerable if JobKeeper ended too quickly.”
 
“Our survey showed two in five businesses receiving JobKeeper do not have a plan to manage when payments stop, and one in two recipients will need to reduce staff hours or headcount when payments stop,” Mr Cartwright said.
 
The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in NSW that brought the numbers up to 3685 while the outbreak in Victoria to 8696 with 549 new cases as of July 27, are adding pressures to the business community that has reopened their doors to customers while practising precautions on premises.
 
At the time of writing, 161 Australians have died from the virus and nearly four million tests have been conducted across states and territories.
 
Mr Cartwright said Business NSW has proposed the National Cabinet target its priorities on economic strategies to slash the current 11 per cent unemployment rate to below six per cent by 2022 and ensure youths are receiving skills training and guaranteed jobs.
 
“The business community would like to see their government implementing policies that will get people back into work,” Mr Cartwright said. “We can’t afford to lose our next generation of skilled workers because of insufficient work opportunities.”
 
On his departure in mid-August, Mr Cartwright said, he was “immensely proud” of his achievements such as the full-tilt modernisation of the NSW Business Chamber that advocated for NSW businesses since 1826 into Business NSW and Business Australia, as well as the increase of local business chambers and membership from 4500 in 2009 to over 34,000 today.
 
Mr Cartwright also led the launching of the Western Sydney Business Chamber in 2012 to campaign for the final plans for Sydney’s second airport in Badgerys Creek now set to open by December 2026.
 
“I have been discussing this change with the Chairman for some time, and we both agree that, after 11 very successful years, and with the transformation now complete, this is the right time to hand over to a successor to take the organisation on the next phase of its journey,” Mr Cartwright said.
 
“Anyone who knows me knows of my love for sport, and the sports people I admire most are those who retire at the top of their game, having won everything there is to win, and I always feel sorry for the ones who play on for one season too long. You should always go out at the top of your game and under your own terms.”
 
Business NSW chairman Lyall Gorman said Mr Cartwright’s leadership has paved the way for the improvement in the operations of business communities throughout NSW.
 
“His legacy will remain well into the future, especially among our regional members who he passionately advocated for to make sure that their contribution to our communities was never forgotten by decision makers at a Federal, State and Local level,” Mr Gorman said.
 


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