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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 894 ..


costs in Australia, the cost of living under Labor and the Greens is becoming unaffordable for so many.

Despite promising a rates reprieve before the election, this government slugged 60,000 Canberra households with rates rises. Despite promising before the election that electricity prices would go down by $43  per year, they are scheduled to increase by closer to $300 a year. Despite promising before the election to tackle fuel prices, they are at a 12-month high. The Chief Minister was happy to make a song and dance in the lead-up to the election, threatening to intervene under the Fair Trading Act to put a cap on fuel prices, but 12 months on we are back to where we started—Canberrans continue to pay more at the bowser than other Australians.

Mr Barr: That is not true, Elizabeth. You can’t mislead the Assembly like that.

MS LEE: You said yourself that there are other times where it is high. That is true; that is what you said.

MR BARR: Not more than other Australians. That is just not true.

MS LEE: Over 38,000 Canberrans, including 8,000 children, are right now living in poverty. The government’s endless tax and rates increases, their refusal to tackle land and housing affordability, and the 400 public houses sitting empty despite thousands on the waiting list, ensure that these 38,000 Canberrans remain in poverty.

That is why, two months ago, I stood before this Labor-Greens government offering the Canberra Liberals’ support to establish a poverty task force to tackle the rising numbers of Canberrans living in poverty. But, despite offers from the Canberra Liberals to work constructively with our counterparts, Canberrans were told by no less than three government ministers that Labor and the Greens know it all and they know best.

This budget was an opportunity for the Chief Minister to demonstrate to businesses that we can be a flexible, nimble territory government in times of economic crisis. The government’s flagship business policy, an economic opportunity to build on the success of our health response to COVID, was a failure. The government told us that their policy would help local businesses get more customers in the door and start the road to recovery. However, only 336 of Canberra’s 30,000 small businesses signed up to the government’s shiny new business initiative, the Choose CBR scheme. Meanwhile, taxpayers were slapped with a $123,000 bill just for administering the scheme, with a total uptake of just $370,000.

After my team and I spoke with traders, it became apparent that many businesses run by Canberrans with English as a second language had either not heard of the scheme or found it too difficult to access. This is particularly disappointing, given that the Minister for Business and Better Regulation is also the Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

Canberra businesses have done the hard yards during the pandemic. They stayed open whenever they could. They kept Canberrans employed. They showed up at work


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