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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 August 2021) . . Page.. 2227 ..

Instead of taking sensible action to provide benefits for all businesses, they prefer failed schemes like ChooseCBR. In April, they rejected my colleague Ms Castley’s motion calling for a ministerial advisory council for small business. That voice to government would no doubt be calling for common-sense measures like e-invoicing—again, a missed opportunity by this government.

Canberra businesses are facing a skills shortage, but young people moving to Canberra to work cannot afford to rent or buy a house here. The Labor-Greens government locked small business out of its energy abatement schemes, adds red tape through union-backed systems like the Secure Local Jobs Code, and could not or would not tell me how often they extend their panels rather than allow new applicants to tender.

Time and again I hear from businesses, organisations and constituents that this government has opportunities to deliver cutting-edge digital systems, and it just sits on its hands—a sign of indolence and complacency.

E-invoicing is just one part of the bigger picture of measures that should be put in place for our business community, as well as for the not-for-profit sector and the Canberra economy at large. We should be using this digital innovation as one of our COVID recovery measures and we must absolutely ensure that suppliers for the ACT government are paid on time.

In closing, I implore this Labor-Greens government to provide certainty right now by aligning its time frame for the implementation of e-invoicing with the commonwealth government’s 1 July 2022 target.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (3.48): I welcome the opportunity to discuss how our government is continuing to support small businesses and local jobs in Canberra. Mr Cain’s motion makes reference to the importance of assistance to business, and we absolutely agree, which is why our government has a range of programs and initiatives in place to support local businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises.

As we know, it has been a difficult year for business in Canberra and across the country. To this end, our government has stepped up with a range of assistance measures. We have applied rates relief for commercial properties, we have made rent reduction support available for tenants of commercial properties directly impacted by COVID-19, we have provided payroll tax waivers and exemptions for businesses that have been unable to trade due to health restrictions, and we have waived food business registration, outdoor dining and liquor licensing fees, and we will continue to waive these until 31 March 2022.

Access Canberra’s business liaison line has played a critical role in providing timely advice and guidance to businesses about the current public health directions in place. The service works closely with the Chief Health Officer to provide updates on travel requirements, COVID testing and the rollout of vaccines.

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