ACT News


Slump claims Fyshwick building supplier

An easing in mining activity, political uncertainty and the state of the local housing sector may have all combined to kill off a well-known Canberra business.

Unless a "white knight'' investor emerges, Fisher Discount Workshop Machinery in Fyshwick will close at the end of the month. About seven staff have already lost their jobs and the remaining five will go when the 33-year-old business closes.

Rob Chambers, who bought the business in April, said several factors had combined to force him to close.

"A combination of things have come together to spell its end,'' Mr Chambers said.

He said before he bought Fisher Discount, the business was included in a pool of assets hit hard by the introduction of the mining super-profits tax. Mr Chambers said the business had suffered a further downturn when former prime minister Julia Gillard announced in January the election would be on September 14.

"Every business in Canberra seems to stop when an election gets called,'' he said.


Other factors had hurt the business as well. "Everywhere you go - interstate as well - builders are not building houses,'' Mr Chambers said. "Builders I know in Canberra have got houses they built 12 months ago that still haven't sold. They're hardly in a position to go out building more. We need to sell nails by the pallet load in Canberra, now you'd never sell a pallet of nails.''

Despite the challenges faced by Fisher Discount, Mr Chambers believed it could recover quickly if a new investor was found. "I think it would bounce back reasonably quickly. We're looking for a white knight, I guess, but they don't have a lot of time to turn up,'' he said. Andrew Blyth, chief executive of the ACT and Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the private sector was weak and the announcement by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that 800 jobs would be cut from the public service had not helped.

''We need to be doing all that we can for the private sector in this town and we should have been trying to diversify our workforce and business years back,'' he said.

Figures from the Insolvency and Trustee Service show there were 60 personal bankruptcies in the ACT in the June quarter - 87 per cent more than in the quarter last year.


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