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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 June 2021) . . Page.. 1880 ..


Those opposite frequently speak of the importance of government transparency. This government has proven time and time again that their real priority is about money and not so much about people. I have seen it in their dealings with child protection, the AMC and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. When their motivation is driven by money they are poorly selling themselves short and showing that they are tired, old and incompetent. Ms Castley’s motion is the perfect opportunity to find out if they believe what they say when they say they want to serve Canberrans. I commend this motion to the Assembly.

MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (3.44): I commend Ms Castley’s motion and thank her for her tireless advocacy for small businesses in Canberra. I take this moment to also acknowledge our hardworking Canberra local businesses who not only have had such a tough and challenging period through the pandemic but have now had the additional burden of a failed scheme that was designed specifically to help them.

Earlier the Chief Minister made a snide remark to me that the government does not always get things perfect. Perfection is not what the community is after, but it is absolutely fair and right for the Canberra community to know where $2 million dollars of their hard-earned dollars is going, how it is being spent and whether it is achieving the purpose for which it was used.

This is not the first time this government has tried the scheme. Only this morning the minister in her very long ministerial statement talked about the ACT Labor election commitment to a scheme such as this. And only this morning in the ministerial statement the minister talked about how it was referenced back as far as the economic and fiscal outlook in August. We are talking 10 months down the track.

Let’s not forget the abysmal performance of the trial that occurred in December. We now know that not only was the take-up not going to help many of the small businesses but there were some questionable transactions as well. When asked questions in question time, no further information was given and no more enlightenment on what some of those transactions were and how the issue has been addressed to ensure it does not happen again.

It took six months for the scheme to be revamped, but as the Canberra Times said

… the government did not prepare its website to handle the greater volumes. By some strange calculation, it appeared to assume that doubling the voucher amount would simply double the pressure on the system. It's a bizarre way to calculate potential demand for a scheme. It raises the question, what modelling did the government use to anticipate the spending volumes before stress testing its website? Right now, the numbers seem to have been pulled out of thin air before the second stage of the scheme.

Ms Castley’s motion calls for this Assembly to refer the ChooseCBR scheme for a full, comprehensive and independent review by the Auditor-General. According to their website, the Auditor-General’s role is to:


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