Page 3019 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 October 2022

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Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (10.28): I am pleased to speak in support of this part of the budget through a number of areas within my portfolio responsibilities.

I want to begin by responding to some comments from the other side, namely from Ms Castley. The comments continue the theme for which they have established such a rich and widely acknowledged reputation: that is, being, at the least, ill-informed, if not wilfully ignorant. Ms Castley purports that there is little in the budget for business. It is worth reminding members that we had three hours of estimates hearings for the areas for which I have responsibility in business.

The shadow minister for business, Ms Castley, only bothered turning up for half. That is unusual. I do not know why she was not there, and perhaps she had a valid reason, but it is not like someone else was tapped on the shoulder and provided with Ms Castley’s questions. I certainly appreciated that Ms Lawder was there, and she asked questions, but none of those strayed into the business space, and there were no questions on notice. On one level it is amusing, and on another it is quite offensive when Ms Castley comes in here and attacks me and attacks the budget, when she could not even bother to put in the work herself! It is what we have come to expect: empty words from an opposition without vision.

Ms Castley’s contribution ignored the 11,000 businesses we supported through business grants in the pandemic, rapid cash injections, extension payments to provide continued support and top-up payments to provide additional support for our larger, employing businesses. She ignored payments to tourism, accommodation providers, arts, events, hospitality and fitness to provide additional support to businesses in these industries, recognising that they were particularly hard hit by ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

She ignored the record investment in skills, which Minister Steel detailed for her benefit yesterday. She ignored that the government has continued to fund the Canberra Business and Advice Service. She ignored the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business Support Program—creating awareness of business support measures and grant funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses in the ACT, supporting them in gaining access to these support measures and, in doing so, supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to grow and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. I acknowledge that Mr Davis yesterday spoke at length in support of that and certainly recognised those efforts.

She ignored the significant body of work to ready the ACT for automatic mutual recognition of individual occupational licensing, which commenced on 1 July this year, making it simpler, quicker and less expensive for people to work across jurisdictions. She ignored the more than $22 million in this year’s budget to deliver initiatives focused on the development of our knowledge-intensive sectors, the commercialisation of research, investment attraction and facilitation, development of our innovation ecosystem, and the creation of new businesses and jobs.

She ignored that the government is responding to the needs of businesses and committing to addressing those needs, including through the continued development of a business hub as a seamless online point of entry for business, as well as the

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