Su McCluskey

Proprietor, Cluskers Stud
Chairperson of Energy Renaissance,
Director of Australian Unity Director of the Foundation for Young Australians

"By helping small business to embrace digital technology and grow, you are helping the economy to grow."

Su McCluskey


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DESCRIPTION:  Text - Australian Government Small Business Digital Taskforce. Su McCluskey.  A woman with short dark hair in a casual white shirt stands in front of a small red farm ute, with a backdrop of fields and rolling hills.

SU McCLUSKEY:  My name's Su McCluskey, and I run a beef cattle enterprise called Cluskers Stud, which is a Murray Grey beef cattle stud at Yass, New South Wales. I'm also a Tax Accountant, and I do a lot of work in the regional policy and regional economic development area.

DESCRIPTION:  Su walks past a hay enclosure in a field, surrounded by pale grey cows.

SU McCLUSKEY:  I started this business 26 years ago. Came out to the property completely as someone green, didn't know anything about cattle. Started with two steers, Stroganoff and Stir Fry. Started volunteering at the Canberra show. Learned all I could about how to breed cattle. Picked the Murray Greys as being the breed that I really wanted to breed. They have a great temperament, great to work with, produce good beef, and then ran, started very quickly, got into showing cattle at field days and at different shows around the state. And I've really bred those cattle every year until very recently and now I'm running what's called more commercial stud, commercial enterprise. Still focused very much on beef cattle breeding, but not showing so much anymore.

You know, as a small business owner myself, and someone who lives in a rural area, access to technology isn't that easy, and so communications can be a bit challenged at times. And, I know, myself, I've needed to look for, how do I get help to be able to allow me to engage with the technology. How I can go about being able to learn how to use that technology even though I am away from a city and, you know, it's not easy to get the sort of training and knowledge. But also, being able to take that step and then find out, wow, I've all of a sudden got more time that I can focus on my girls, my cattle, and my business rather than having to, you know, fill in forms manually, or being out I have to put something in an envelope and, you know, drive into town and having to post it.

DESCRIPTION: The cows gather around, eating the hay.

SU McCLUSKEY:  In my business, it's been an interesting journey for me with technology. Because I live in a rural area, telecommunications hasn't always been that great. You know, when I moved here 26 years ago, it was actually a party line on the telephone, where only so many people could use the phone.

We did get the internet a number of years ago, satellite. So I have a satellite on the house, and it's only been in the last probably 12 months that I've been able to get access to WiFi, so that means that I can now actually run off the internet continuously. I'm able to download documents. I can actually send things electronically. I have finally been able to do my first BAS electronically, which was something I haven't been able to do before. So all of that makes a huge difference you know.

And, you know, it's acknowledged that people in rural and regional areas may have challenges with access to communications, but, you know, when you get that it really makes a huge amount of difference to be able to do your work. I can do my banking online. I don't have to actually drive into the nearest town, which is 45 kilometres away, to go to the bank. So, all of those things make a huge amount of difference.

One of the things we've got to remember is that small businesses are really diverse. And so that, you have small businesses that are at different stages on their journey. You know, you have younger people starting a small business that have only ever grown up with technology, and so for them it's quite easy to embrace the internet, to embrace being able to... to use technology as part of their whole business. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, you have people who have been in business a long time. And so, it's a learning curve, and it's a big learning curve for them to get across it. And I'm a great fan of mentoring, or being able to look at, you know, ways we can get people who can help them. Because a lot of the time, for small business owners, it's not just 'tell me', it's 'show me'. So, it's not just about having something on a government website or another website, where you've gotta go and look for it. It's about someone who can say, "I can show you and talk to you in your language, and actually show you how this can work and make things easier for you." So I think we've got to remember that.

That diversity in the small business sector means that you need to have a whole range of different responses that means you get actually get a better outcome. And, of course, the work that we're doing on the Small Business Digital Taskforce is really looking at different recommendations that will embrace that scope of different responses, so that we really are helping all of small businesses, no matter where they live, where they work, how they operate, and that's what we're aiming to do.

For small business to be able to really embrace digital technology, there are a number of benefits. Firstly, for the small business themselves, and the communities in which they live in. You know, and, the other benefit really is for the Australian economy as a whole because, you know, we hear them saying small business is the engine room of the economy. And, you know, there are hundreds and thousands of small businesses, so, the fact that if you're actually helping small business to grow, you're helping the economy to grow. So there is a direct benefit that comes from that. So, this is something that's good for small business, and good for the country as well. Which means it's good for all Australians.

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DESCRIPTION:  Text - Small Business Digital Taskforce. Join the conversation, #smalldigbiz.