Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 February 2018) . . Page.. 552 ..
now facing financial uncertainty. They do not know what the future holds for them. The experience of the entire industry that I have spoken with is that they are losing customers on a daily basis, regardless of where they are in Canberra, simply because the government has sent the message that green bins are on their way.
Let us be honest, Madam Speaker: it is hard to argue with something that is free. When you are paying $15 or $20 to have your green waste collected monthly, against having the government do it for you for free, it is hard to argue with that service. But it comes at the detriment of 30 to 40 good, longstanding businesses. These businesses now face that uncertainty. The experience of operators in the Weston Creek area has been a 50 per cent loss of business as the green bins are rolled out to people’s driveways. Of the remaining 50 per cent of their business that they manage to retain, they are collecting half as often. So, in essence, 75 per cent of their business disappears. That, for most of these operators, renders their business unviable. In particular, for those that operate under a franchise model and that have exclusive zones, it further inhibits their ability to function and operate their businesses going forward.
Over the Christmas period I sat down and worked with the majority of operators in the industry. The purpose of that was to find out what it is that they need to move forward. To be honest, there is no one silver bullet that is going to help everyone. Some are able to diversify their businesses and go into other pursuits, and they can carve out a new living by doing something different. For others, green bins being rolled out by the government is the end of the road. Their business is no more. For those who also have outstanding loans, either for the business that they purchased or for trucks that they own, they will walk away without a job, without an income, still owing the bank money and with a cloud of uncertainty over their own family home.
It is completely unacceptable that there has been no regard by the minister or the government thus far in supporting these individuals. I have just been given the evil glare from Minister Fitzharris. To be honest, there has been an absolute lack of consultation by the government with these operators. To date, the minister has said, “Oh, well, we’ve spoken with them about other avenues or other areas where they can work. We’re looking at a bulky waste collection service. Perhaps they can work in that.” I am going to be harsh but brutally honest: for many of these people, sitting down and going through a government procurement process is not the sort of thing they are capable of doing. First of all, there is the complexity of insurance paperwork and the documentation; beyond that, the financial and personal guarantees that are required to be put in order to gain a contract through the government are simply a barrier to entry for the vast majority of them.
The essence of the issue is not whether or not green bins are a good policy but how we deal with local businesses when government chooses to move in and take over an industry. These businesses cumulatively are looking at the loss of their investment, the loss of their hard-earned money that they have invested in their businesses, and the loss of the goodwill that they have generated in building an asset, be it for retirement, something that they are in the process of paying off or, in some instances, something they have bought as recently as two years ago and are still trying to pay off. A fairly diligent piece of work has been done to sit down with them and look at their financials,