Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 February 2018) . . Page.. 558 ..
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (6.19): I will be supporting the government’s amendment to Mr Wall’s motion. I want to talk about two issues which relate to the motion. First, I am going to address the impact of the green waste collection pilot on small businesses. Second, I am going to address where I believe the green waste collection needs to move in the future.
Looking at the impact on small business, the reality is that almost everything the government does impacts on business—big, small and medium size. It would not be possible to deliver the services that the community expects the government to provide and wants the government to provide without impacting in some way on businesses big and small. I will give a few examples. In health, public health services undoubtedly impact on the demand for private medical services. The nurse-led walk-in centres indubitably would have made some impact on local medical practitioners. In early childhood education, government preschools could be regarded as competing with childcare centres. In transport, clearly bus services reduce car use and therefore make an impact on automotive services. There is less need for mechanics; there are fewer accidents, so panelbeaters have less business; and there are fewer new and old cars sold. Many of the businesses involved in this are small businesses.
So the question, which is a very real question, is how the government can fairly manage these impacts. Mr Wall has quite eloquently gone through the sorts of investments and the impacts on families that changes in business environments have for small businesses. Small businesses have invested in their equipment; they have hired staff, they have customers and often it is the family’s livelihood. Small businesses have to be able to adapt to changing business conditions to survive, because business conditions change all the time. We know that. But adapting takes time and knowledge.
The reality, fortunately or unfortunately, is that we cannot rely on compensation packages to solve all problems. Governments cannot afford to pay compensation to every business that is impacted on by government activities. That is the reality. If they are going to do that, they are going to have to cut back on funding for something else. Our last debate was around funding for road safety improvements. We all agree that that should happen. There is a balance, and that is what we have to talk about.
The budget is not a magic pudding. Basically government would become unworkable if every policy change triggered a raft of compensation payments. So the government need to recognise that for every change they make that substantially impacts on small business they need to consult first—probably first, second and third they need to consult. As a result of the consultation they need to put into place transitional arrangements, if appropriate. And they need to signal the changes well ahead of time so that small businesses have time to adjust. The world does not stay the same.
I am quite happy to agree that the sudden announcement of the green waste pilot was not the best approach. I have absolutely no doubt that Mr Wall is correct and it did impact on some small businesses. Fortunately it was a fairly small pilot to start with, not the full rollout. I am pleased that the government has now published a clear