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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3462 ..

the suburbs through a system of footpaths that allow residents to travel to the shops on foot whilst avoiding traffic lights and road crossings. In many cases the walk to the shops may be shorter in distance and/or time than driving there.

In many suburbs residents also have a habit of stopping by the local shops on their way home from work, sport or study. This allows them to avoid some of the congestion and parking hassles that often accompany a visit to a large shopping centre whilst supporting their local community and the small business owners who choose to invest in it.

Many Belconnen residents feel justifiably possessive of their local shops. They enjoy meeting up with their neighbours for coffees at the local cafe. They appreciate the opportunity to grab fresh food and pantry staples from their local supermarkets, several of which also provide a range of gourmet and specialist items. Local chemists and medical offices provide peace of mind to those who depend upon prescription medications or have sick children. Local butchers and newsagencies, hairdressers, bakeries and other retailers are much valued parts of the local community. Ask any resident of Belconnen where to find the best pizza or Canberra’s finest potato scallop and you will quickly find how committed they are to their local takeaways.

Local shop owners are important elements in the success and vibrancy of these small shopping centres. They work long and hard to provide quality services, often from before sunrise until well into the evening. They get to know the regular customers in ways that can never happen in large retail outlets. They diversify their offerings to meet local needs, and in the process they foster a real sense of community, providing a powerful alternative to the social isolation that often occurs in less connected suburbs.

It is unfortunate, therefore, that so often these local shopping centres are neglected by this government. Many of them are run down and shabby in appearance and this negatively impacts the success of the dedicated small business owners who choose to trade there. Numerous constituents have spoken to me about the problem of rubbish being left around their local shops without being cleared away. Car parks are often inadequate to handle the traffic that occurs at predictable times each day. Basic amenities that would improve the experience of all visitors are often lacking.

Let us take the example of the Florey shops. Despite its proximity to the Belconnen town centre, this local shopping centre is a very busy and important part of that suburb, experiencing a large number of visitors throughout the day. The pizza shop, in fact, sells an average of more than 30 pizzas per hour. This shopping centre also includes a small playground for families and a number of benches that invite visitors to sit and rest and extend their visit.

As residents of Belconnen have pointed out to me, the government for some reason has made the decision not to provide toilets. I have already raised the absence of toilets at a number of other local shops in the Belconnen area, and the response from Minister Fitzharris has been that toilets are generally not provided at local shops. As any mum can tell you, it is unlikely anyone is going to spend any more time than

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