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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 June 2021) . . Page.. 1828 ..

Business—ChooseCBR scheme

Ministerial statement

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (10.59): I am pleased to give this statement today to update the Assembly on the ChooseCBR program. This program was a business stimulus program to stimulate local spending with the aim of attracting new customers to businesses and to get them spending more. It has achieved its aims. It has highlighted the incredible range of hardworking local businesses operating throughout the ACT and the diverse, unique, high quality and innovative products and services they offer. It has also highlighted the willingness and enthusiasm of our business community to get behind bold new initiatives.

A digital discounts scheme was first announced in the August 2020 economic and fiscal update before a broader scheme of $2 million was announced as an ACT Labor election commitment. At the time of the announcement, there was only one other scheme similar to it in existence, the myDarwin stimulus spending scheme. Given the value of the scheme being $2 million and it being a one-off, the ACT government made considered decisions about the design of the scheme with respect to time and value for money.

Building a new website or an app would have represented a significant cost, particularly when reflected against the stimulus commitment. It would have taken a significant amount of time to do. This would not have been appropriate, because this was about stimulus occurring during the pandemic at a time when businesses have been doing it tough, not years down the track.

I am aware of commentary that the ACT government could have considered a scheme like Dine & Discover in New South Wales, including how it was integrated with an app. I will have more to say later about the differences in scheme design between ACT and New South Wales but, with regard to functionality, Dine & Discover vouchers have been integrated into the Service NSW app. An app of its kind does not exist in the ACT, so this was simply not an option for us.

With all of this in mind—and noting that at the time of the decision no similar scheme existed—a decision was made to purchase the existing, and successful, myDarwin program and the technical support provided by its vendor. Members are aware that we ran a trial of the scheme in December. It was important to do this because this sort of scheme was the first of its kind in the ACT and we wanted to get an understanding of how Canberrans and the business community would respond to it and engage with it.

The trial gave us that very helpful information: 336 businesses of an estimated 2,000 eligible participated in the trial and almost 40,000 consumers registered. Voucher values were two vouchers of $2.50, one voucher of $5, one voucher of $10 and one voucher of $20, each of these available to the customer each day. Customers had to spend at least four times the amount of the voucher to be able to use the voucher. Of $500,000 available in the trial, $310,000 in vouchers were redeemed. About $30,000 in vouchers were being claimed a day towards the end of the trial.

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