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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1353 ..

again: one of its first and most critical tasks has been talking to business about how to talk to business! Are we serious about the 30,000 small businesses in the ACT that employ one in four Canberrans? The Labor-Greens have been wielding power in this nation’s capital for more than two decades, but they are still working out how to talk to small business. Whatever happened to picking up the phone, walking the street, handing out your business card and saying, “G’day. How can I help you today?”

Minister Cheyne also reveals the key principles underpinning the task force’s approach: firstly, that we know everyone is busy; secondly, we recognise engagement is a two-way process; and, thirdly, we are engaging directly with business owners. Well, thank goodness for that. No wonder the small business sector despairs at four more years of this out-of-touch government. Small business owners are smart operators and they have no interest in political babble and waffle. They know when they are being dudded by a government and lost in reviews and task forces that are apparently still learning how to talk.

That is why the small business community backs the Canberra Liberals’ call for the government to establish a small business ministerial advisory council, to do away with all of the task forces and have a permanent body with regular, high level access to the minister and government where decisions are made. Minister Cheyne said that a council would be a burden on business and time consuming. Instead, she serves up a task force with the critical task of talking to business about how to talk to business.

Before concluding, I note that Minister Cheyne said she has met with the Mitchell Traders Association and has built stronger relationships of communication and response. I have also been chatting with Mitchell traders. I wonder whether she has spoken to the local businesses that supply and install solar panels and are struggling because business has dried up as Canberrans wait for government to kick off its loan scheme.

I spoke to companies who were left high and dry by this government, as customers put on the brakes the moment the government announced the scheme in early August last year. That is 3½ thousand Canberrans who have expressed interest in the loan scheme, but it means that there are 3½ thousand customers that these businesses do not have and they are now struggling to stay afloat while they wait. The government expected this scheme to be up and running by April, but business is still waiting. Where is the certainty that business needs?

Canberra’s small business community gets either whacked or ignored by this government, or it cops ministerial statements full of guff that show no understanding and a complete lack of respect for the small business warriors who are at the front-line of our economic recovery.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Personal explanation

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for

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