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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 August 2021) . . Page.. 2316 ..

Undoubtedly, we have had the opportunity over the last 18 months to discuss the range of measures and supports that governments can provide during significant economic shocks. Some have proven to be more effective than others. I note, with a wry smile in light of some of the debates of last year, that the original motion before us today largely endorses the approach that the territory government took last year during the lockdowns in the ACT in terms of being able to deliver support. As Minister Cheyne has identified in her amendment, there are many areas of agreement in the amendment and the original motion in terms of both the nature of support that could be provided as well as the reality that, in fact, that support is in place.

What might be useful in terms of this debate and for the broader understanding of the government’s thinking and the sorts of data and metrics that will drive future decision-making is a bit of a deeper dive into what is occurring in terms of retail trade and turnover for businesses, and diving down into particular industry sectors. The headline figures are obviously very strong for the ACT, both across the year and in the most recent data. As the government has indicated, by decisions taken already and acknowledged very publicly, there are some sections of the ACT economy that are doing exceptionally well and, in fact, achieving all-time record levels of turnover. There are others which are much more exposed to tourism, which are having amongst the toughest times they have had—certainly since the first wave of the virus.

Looking at each industry sector and what is occurring and the actual data is what is driving the government’s decision-making. That is why we have provided support particularly targeted at accommodation and tourism providers. As I indicated in question time, 85 per cent of the available domestic market has been lost to those businesses. Obviously, the other part of the market that remains is somewhat reluctant to travel at this time, in spite of the ACT’s relatively long-term COVID-free status. That necessitated an assistance package. I take it that no news is good news in terms of the opposition’s reaction to that. They have not criticised it, so I presume they are comfortable that the government has taken the appropriate response. We tend to hear, of course, when the opposition is unhappy with measures that we take.

Mrs Jones: They do not tend to publish our positive comments very much, Mr Barr.

MR BARR: That is possibly also true; opposition agreeing with government is not necessarily—

Mrs Jones: A newspaper seller?

MR BARR: a front-page newspaper story. I do acknowledge that.

Ms Lee: It happens from time to time, as you know.

MR BARR: It can, yes. Sometimes it will surprise the media that there is agreement, and then it is a story—there is no doubting that. I think it will be useful, in addition to Minister Cheyne’s comments, to have a bit of a deeper dive into what is happening in hospitality, particularly as there has been a lot of discussion today about cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services bearing the brunt of a difficult period.

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