Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 10 May 2018) . . Page.. 1832 ..
government is hell-bent on delivering light rail, no matter what the cost. What this government is doing to the businesses and communities of Gungahlin is appalling. It sucks, plain and simple.
We note that construction is underway in most areas of the tram corridor and we accept that there will be disruptions and delays. But what is really hurting businesses is the constant change to pedestrian access, parking, traffic flows, noise levels, fencing, dust and general disruption. As a result, customers are actively avoiding the Gungahlin town centre. They are shopping elsewhere and, sadly, they may never return. There appears to be no consideration of the impact of trading when drilling, digging and jackhammering happens all day, every day during the working day.
During my visits in Gungahlin, local businesses have reported a significant impact to their trade. Any profit has disappeared. For some, trade has reduced by 30, 40 and even 50 per cent. I ask members here: how would you cope if your income was reduced by 50 per cent? What could you cut or go without? Which bills wouldn’t you pay? What would it mean to your household? How long would it be until the bank foreclosed on your mortgage due to not being able to make repayments?
Multiply this by 100, because that reflects the pressure and stress of running a small business. It is not only their livelihood but also that of all their employees and suppliers. The effects flow on to their families as well. These business owners deserve to be supported when the government has imposed this project upon them without any meaningful assistance.
The actions of this government in their complete failure to accept any responsibility are appalling. The situation has reached crisis point. The construction is driving customers away from the Gungahlin town centre. The government claim that they are communicating and consulting, but they keep pushing forward with their agenda. Platitudes are offered like: “Just hold on,” “Weather the storm,” and “There is light at the end of the tunnel.” This view is naive and ill informed. Businesses cannot hold on any longer.
Light rail construction has disrupted the Gungahlin town centre for almost 18 months. Business owners have suffered serious losses of trade for too long. Many will never make up the losses. Some might not make it to the end of the project. They will be forced into a fire sale. I repeat: the business owners deserve to be compensated for the ongoing and severe decline in trade they have experienced during this overly prolonged and poorly planned construction of light rail. The cost of light rail should not be worn by small business owners.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (4.51): Last week I had the privilege of attending the YWCA Great Ydeas breakfast and hearing from a number of female leaders, including Olympia Yarger, who is the founder and managing director of Canberra company GOTERRA. GOTERRA produces sustainable feed suitable for pets, chickens, pigs and aquaculture. This innovative company grows the larvae of the black solider fly. This particular breed of fly, if you knew as much about it as I did a