Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2021) . . Page.. 2043 ..
shrub and ground cover so that people can pick and choose which species they would like in their gardens and help them to grow and contribute to our canopy cover. There are a range of different ways people can contribute, and we are looking forward to engaging more with the community as part of our approach under the urban forest strategy going forward.
MS CASTLEY: My question is to the minister for business. In April the government eased COVID capacity restrictions for live music venues, but these new rules do not apply to live performance or dance venues. One of those live performance businesses is Flazeda in Belconnen, where the capacity restrictions are hitting their business hard. In a letter to Flazeda, you wrote that “Unfortunately, the viability concern that was presented to the office of the Chief Health Officer related specifically to live music and therefore that was the way everything was written.” You added, “I have discussed with Minister Stephen-Smith my views around this.” Minister, why has your government relaxed COVID capacity restrictions for live music businesses but not for live performance businesses?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Madam Speaker, given that public health directions are the responsibility of the Chief Health Officer, I have taken this question as Minister for Health. I think that was answered in Ms Cheyne’s correspondence. The original request that was put to the Chief Health Officer to consider was specifically in relation to live music venues, and that announcement was made in relation to live music venues. We are certainly aware, and the Chief Health Officer is certainly aware, of the concerns of businesses that do similar activities that do not necessarily involve music. There has been some planning in relation to that. But with the current situation that we have seen in Victoria and New South Wales, obviously, now has not been the time to make any further announcements about easing of restrictions.
I would certainly encourage any venue that does have concerns to also make direct contact with the exemptions team to talk about the events that they are conducting. The team is incredibly helpful, and those venues that have been talking directly with the team have certainly been able to get some really good advice from them. This is certainly an issue that we are well aware of and the Chief Health Officer is actively considering it.
MS CASTLEY: My question was initially to Minister Cheyne about her views. What are your views that you referred to when you answered this constituent about live performance venues?
MS CHEYNE: My views are that all live performance venues ideally would be included. With the way that it was written, it ended up being a particularly narrow definition. I have engaged with Minister Stephen-Smith. As Minister Stephen-Smith has noted, she has engaged with the office of the Chief Health Officer regarding this. If we were in a position that we were leading towards a further easing of restrictions, that would be the appropriate time. This is simply no longer the appropriate time.