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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Friday, 23 April 2021) . . Page.. 1153 ..

(d) established the Better Regulation Taskforce that will make starting, running, and growing a business easier in the ACT by engaging with businesses to identify issues that are a burden to business and working across government to resolve these; and

(3) calls on the ACT Government to continue to engage with businesses in a way that suits them and is respectful of their time.”

Ms Castley and I are in agreement about wanting Canberra to be, and to be known as, small business friendly—even more so than it already is. I very much welcome the conversation about how best to engage with Canberra’s small business communities and I want to stress just how valued they are. They are the engine room of our economy, and I have greatly appreciated the huge amount of engagement I have had in the five-ish months since assuming this portfolio.

I also want to acknowledge that this has been a difficult period. Our businesses have been asked to do so much, and they have responded every time. The way in which they have worked deserves our praise and thanks. It is for this reason that our health response has been so strong, that there is growing confidence in our community and economy, and that the economic recovery is strong. I commend and honour that today. Thank you to our small businesses.

In moving this amendment, I would like to state at the outset that the idea of a small business ministerial advisory council has not been dismissed out of hand—far from it. Establishing an advisory council along the lines proposed in the motion was an idea I considered when I took on this newly established portfolio. It is one I have discussed at length with members of the business community and with peak bodies too. Having considered feedback and conducted my own engagement with many businesses as well as many business and industry associations, it is clear that the issues and interests across the communities are varied. This might be due to the natures or types of the businesses and their locations or the stages of life of the businesses and so on.

I have found that the best way to understand businesses has been through direct engagement with them. But, in addition to direct engagement, there already exist many forums, advisory bodies, boards and other opportunities to engage with Canberra’s diverse business communities. Many of these are of their own making—ones which they trust in and engage with already. The Canberra Business Chamber itself is one of those bodies that is an effective advocate—it provides its own forums, which I have joined and which other ministers have joined—but there are countless others, as well.

This is what I, and the government, have been doing. We have been engaging directly with business owners—going to where they already are, through forums and associations they are already engaged in, and in ways that are respectful of their time. I am grateful for the frankly constant and wide variety of community and business engagements during the past five months. This approach has proven effective, and it is one that I and the government intend to continue. But it is also why I am reluctant to set up an advisory council when there are already very effective mechanisms, bodies, forums and organisations.

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