The economy has downed tools
PETER Farquhar's East Coast Cabinets has grown from a backyard business at the Jetty in the mid-1970s to a manufacturing company with 14 staff that's survived many downturns over 35 years.
Mr Farquhar says better times will return but this year has been the toughest to date.
The telling factor came last Friday when he could not hear a single power tool in the Lawson Cr industrial estate, as his staff sat idle having run out of work.
"You could have heard a pin drop. It was further proof to me that there are many businesses hurting in the local manufacturing industry," Mr Farquhar said.
"I can say we haven't had as many customers through the doors and the phone doesn't ring like it used too, but we have still had to meet rising overheads. We aren't going to the wall but I'm worried because many others have."
His frustration at the obvious downturn, which he says no-one in government will admit, has prompted him to write an open letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan.
"The politicians in Canberra are really insulated from the real world, with the mining sector boom they say Australia has escaped the global financial crisis but small business owners, who account for 40% of the workforce, are hurting."
"People just aren't spending money, we have a government that can't sell its story to the public, and an Opposition that is scaring the living daylights out of everyone, people are scared of the unknown and spending has stopped.
"I know I'm saying what a lot of small business owners are feeling, but it's about time the government looked at the bigger issue and that's not refugee resettlement or carbon taxes, it's the economy.
"Initially I didn't agree with the government stimulus but, since that, trade has slowed and spending has stopped."
In his letter, Mr Farquhar states that the Australian building industry is in decline due to a lack of investment.
"Over the past month, our worst fears have come to fruition. No work for employees other than cleaning the factory and short weeks. Even those not in the building industry confirm that they are in a similar predicament."
"This message is not about falling profits or the environment; it's about lack of income and survival."