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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 June 2018) . . Page.. 2069 ..

Adelaide; and business disruption in Tenterfield in rural New South Wales caused by sewerage works partially closing a road.

Mr Milligan’s motion argues that the government should pay compensation to affected businesses. The problem with this proposition is that, if the government pays compensation for one project, it sets a precedent for other projects. This could quickly become unaffordable and make it very hard for governments to deliver infrastructure and public realm upgrades.

This was certainly the view of the New South Wales Liberal government, which was mentioned in Mr Milligan’s motion. A Sydney Morning Herald article from 10 December last year quotes the Liberal transport minister saying the following about their infrastructure program:

If we compensated every business that was affected by the $73 billion program, we wouldn’t be able to deliver a thing.

Given these issues, what should the ACT government do in this case? Clearly, there has to be a balance between fairness to the business and the ability of the government to deliver infrastructure for the whole community. The government cannot just pretend that the impacts on businesses do not exist. But, in almost all cases, direct financial compensation will not be an option.

Long-term benefits for the businesses also need to be factored in. For example, for the businesses on Hibberson Street in Gungahlin town centre between Coles and ALDI, light rail will drop large numbers of potential customers right outside their door.

I am very pleased to hear from Minister Fitzharris and see in her amendment that the government has been trying to find ways to help the most impacted businesses. One of the calls is to coordinate and support a street party. This is a good move. I recently heard that the usual annual community event has been cancelled for 2018. Similarly, I am sure that the town centre marketing will be very welcome.

I would also like to talk briefly about Mitchell, which is mentioned in Mr Milligan’s motion. In December last year, I went to Mitchell to have a look around with the Mitchell Traders Association. What I saw was fairly worrying. It was so bad. I came there on the bus. That was fine; no problems. I ended up not being able to go back on the bus because neither I nor my host could work out how to cross Flemington Drive. It was necessary to get to the other side of the road to catch the bus going the other way.

As well as that, there were lots of city services issues such as dead and dying trees not being tidied up and replaced. At that stage the light rail construction had cut Mitchell in two—half on each side of the red rapid bus stop, which is very negative. With that in mind, I was very pleased to hear from Minister Fitzharris’s office that there has been extra focus on city services issues in Mitchell recently, and extra work has been done. I understand that there has also been some targeted marketing support for the light rail business link program, which is also great.

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