Brewing up business

Lara and Matt Lucas spoke with the Prime Minister and Eden-Monaro candidate Fiona Kotvojs about operating a small, local business at the Snowy 2.0 construction site.

During the Prime Minister’s ‘full go ahead’ announcement at Snowy 2.0 this week, another Snowy Valleys endeavour received the PM’s thumbs up for forward thinking. Matt and Lara Lucas of the Coffee Pedaler were onsite with their mobile coffee van, with employee Georjia Worldon carefully brewing Mr Morrison’s full cream flat white.
Just like Snowy 2.0 has had numerous regulatory hurdles to clear, Mr Lucas said the Coffee Pedaler has had to work hard for permission to be onsite.
“There’s a few hurdles to jump through from the camp provision provider and also Future Generation, just getting them to give the final approval to be onsite, but everyone that’s been down here is happy with what we’re doing and having a foot in the door makes it hard to get rid of you,” he said cheerfully on Tuesday.
The onsite coffee van has a dual benefit for the Tumut-based business, earning an income from Snowy 2.0 workers at Lobs Hole while also driving customers back to their Tumut and Gundagai cafes when they’re offsite.
“It’s basically being able to leverage the existing cafes that we have,” he said.
“It has helped us through this period being onsite.”
Mr Lucas didn’t wait for an official call for coffee services when he heard Snowy 2.0 was ramping up, he took the initiative to approach the project’s leadership and find ways to work within their closely-monitored health and safety protocols.
“As soon as they told me they were going to have Snowy 2 and where it was, I said well you’re going to need decent coffee,” he laughed, adding that some executives at the beginning of the process had dryly wished him “good luck” with trying to get approval to be onsite.
Mr Lucas, who is also a member of the Tumut Regional Chamber of Commerce, is both an example of how Snowy 2.0 can benefit local businesses and an advocate for keeping the job boom local.
“The executive team of Snowy Hydro are wholly committed to ensuring that locals receive jobs, and it’s not locals as in Australia/New Zealand, it’s locals as in Snowy Monaro or Snowy Valleys,” he said.
“That’s one of the roles the Chamber of Commerce has played as well in making sure that when we’ve spoken to the Snowy Hydro executive team, we’ve spoken to the National Bushfire Recovery Committee as well as the state government.
“We need to be able to refocus the labour from our area onto a project like this.”
The Chamber is concerned about the future of commerce in the region as logging and milling operations face steep challenges after last summer’s bushfires burnt through 40 per cent of the local area’s plantations.
“We need to be able to redirect those people [into new jobs], otherwise we’re going to lose them out of town,” said Mr Lucas.