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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Friday, 23 April 2021) . . Page.. 1156 ..

This is a terrible amendment. The original motion should stand as it is. I would invite all MLAs in this house to think seriously about so many opportunities the government gives to different parts of the community, as Ms Castley has pointed out. Why not give that opportunity to a part of the community that employs two-thirds of Canberrans? I would urge all members in this house to reject Ms Cheyne’s amendment.

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.11): I thank Ms Castley for bringing this motion to the Assembly. However, I do not support the motion. I support the government’s amendment to the motion. Local businesses are critical to a healthy ACT economy and community. One of the many things I love about our local Canberra context is the tangible and evident sense of support from the community and from the government for local businesses. Never has this been more evident and more important than during the current pandemic, and never have local businesses needed our support so much.

In the Murrumbidgee electorate, we have some wonderful entrepreneurs and local businesses across many industries and sectors. At Mawson, for example, we have an amazing multicultural melting pot that highlights some of the best examples of the incredible multicultural tapestry of our community. Almost next door to each other, we have Lebanese, Swedish, Italian and Vietnamese bakeries. We have Asian and Mediterranean grocery and spice stores, a halal butcher, a fresh grocer, and a wide variety of restaurant cuisines. Many of these local business owners are entrepreneurs who have started new lives in our city. We are lucky to be able to host this diversity of cultures and businesses and lucky that we have a community and government who, in return, supports those businesses.

As a new local member, I have started engaging with many local businesses in my electorate to hear from them about their needs, challenges and opportunities, as well as from the local community. Elsewhere in the Murrumbidgee electorate, the ACT government has demonstrated its commitment to local shopping areas through the $2.5 million upgrade for the surroundings of the Duffy shops, as well as upgrades for Brierly Street at Cooleman Court.

At Duffy, I have sought comment from the community in recent weeks via a range of channels as to their ideas for upgrades and improvements for the shopping area surrounds. I have been overwhelmed by the level of interest and engagement in demonstrating how important these local shopping areas are to the local community. What has become increasingly apparent is how much these local shops provide a space for the community to meet, to socialise and to support local business. The community wants vibrant local places where they feel safe and welcome. Where they have the opportunity to support local and contribute to their neighbourhood, they will.

I am proud to work alongside a government that offers an array of initiatives to help support local businesses, including support, advice and rebates to help businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Cafes, restaurants and takeaway businesses can apply for a one-off $1,000 rebate on their electricity bills. Hotels, motels, serviced apartments and function and event venues can apply for a rebate on their water and sewerage fixed charges on Icon Water bills for the 2020-21 financial year.

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