Page 3003 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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budgeting in the ACT, and there have been some really good steps made in that direction. There is still a bit of dissatisfaction, I think, from various aspects of the community and from a lot of people who have worked quite deeply in this field, about the progress and also about how we measure the progress. There is iterative progress being made, and that is really great to see. It is really important that we do have measures, because if you do not have measures and if you do not set targets, you just do not know if what you are doing is working.

Some of the measures that I look at are not government measures; they are ABS measures. We noticed during estimates, and we covered it a little bit, that we actually got the lowest gender gap here in the ACT during COVID, which was fantastic to see. It got down to 8.6 per cent in November 2020. It unfortunately bounced back up to 14.5 per cent. That is for full-time work. If you factor in part-time work—and, of course, more women are in part-time work; part-time work figures disproportionately affect women—we are actually more up to 24 per cent, which is quite a big gender pay gap. It would be great to see ongoing progress there and also to continue to think about how we holistically do that with our wellbeing indicators, where that sits, who is doing that work, how they are trained and how we are measuring that progress year on year, to know that we are actually moving in the right direction.

MS CASTLEY (Yerrabi) (6.13): In its budget coverage in early August the Canberra Times had a section for losers, under which it listed local business. The Canberra Times concluded:

There’s nothing in the budget directly benefiting businesses which are suffering from staff absences and labour shortages.

I rise to speak about the Appropriation Bill 2022-2023, as shadow minister for business. As the Canberra Times correctly assessed, “disappointing” is an understatement when you consider how little this budget helps our business sector. As far as line items go, it will not take me long to go through them.

The first new initiative comes under the title “Boosting business and the economy”, which encompasses two other line items: Knowledge Capital—Future Jobs Fund and Strengthening the tertiary education sector. It is unclear what effect these initiatives will have on small businesses or if they have any targets and what they might be.

As you go down the list, there are a few technical adjustments and transfers and that is it for business. Members, that is it; you have just been privileged to walk through all of the new business initiatives from this government in their 2022-23 budget, totalling $16.6 million! By contrast, if you turn to the heading “Investing in public services” you will see an investment of more than $44.5 million. This so-called business budget is a slap in the face for business and it is no wonder that business responded with disappointment and frustration. Business is suffering.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for business entry and exit reveal that the ACT has the highest exit rate in the country. More than 4,300 businesses exited the ACT in 2021-22, and the survival rate for business in the ACT is the worst in the country. More than one-third of businesses did not survive between June 2018 and June 2022. Where is the government’s support for these struggling businesses? Where

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