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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Friday, 23 April 2021) . . Page.. 1149 ..


The reason for this notice of a motion today is simple. The Canberra Liberals want the ACT to be the most small business-friendly place in Australia. That is why we are calling on the Labor-Greens government to establish an ACT small business ministerial advisory council. The council would play an important role in meeting that goal. It will be a permanent body, obviating the need for government to set up a smorgasbord of task forces and committees to examine all manner of issues. Perhaps most importantly, the ministerial advisory council will comprise experts in small business—small business owners and workers themselves. They are the ones best placed to advise government on policies to strengthen their sector, as well as other issues affecting their livelihoods, ranging from planning and parking to rates and health regulations.

It is a privilege to be the shadow minister for small business. In my first speech to the Assembly, I spoke about my experience of being a small business owner and running three car yards. My then husband and I employed five staff and made lots of money, but our success did not last. As we were drowning in bills, the debt collector came knocking and the business was liquidated. I turned to selling Tupperware, and my spare bedroom became a beauty salon, where I did waxing and pedicures to put food on the table. Life is never easy, nor is small business; but my story is not different from thousands of small business stories across our territory, and I share it again to show that I understand small business and have enormous respect for the courage of families who start and run small businesses, who take on staff and slog it out every single day to make it work.

Running a business is like riding a rollercoaster—with thrilling highs and absolutely crushing lows. The Canberra Liberals understand and respect small business. This motion calling on the Labor-Greens government to establish an ACT small business ministerial advisory council is a strong and substantial way that the government can show that it, too, understands and respects small business by giving them a permanent place at the table where key decisions are made. The irony is, of course, that small business owners are the ones with the least time to sit around and chat.

The Canberra Liberals understand that small business is the engine room. It is the backbone of our ACT economy. We know Canberra’s 30,000 small businesses need government support and the support of this entire Assembly, because they employ almost two-thirds of Canberra’s workforce and generate massive revenue for the territory. As I have said, Canberra is a public service town—we hear that time and again—but Canberra is also a small business town. Unfortunately, we do not hear as much about that. There is life beyond the public service, as important and valued as that is. The other workhorses in Canberra, outside the departments and directorates, are our cleaners and sandwich makers, florists, mechanics, gym instructors, beauticians, arborists and kitchen hands, hairdressers and tailors, carpet layers and shoemakers. They are also our tradies: electricians, plumbers and carpenters—the ones in such high demand. Good luck to them all.

The Chief Minister offered some gratuitous advice to my colleague Peter Cain yesterday when he said that this city will thrive only if we talk it up. The Canberra Liberals agree, Chief Minister, which is why we talk up small business, and wish your


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