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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 August 2021) . . Page.. 2307 ..

government to provide financial support for overheads as well as a survival plan for the next three years.

Recently, the owner of Parlour in New Acton wrote to the Chief Minister asking for support for the restaurant and function industry. Dr Ross Sydney wrote:

Our Parlour employs 22 permanent staff. As a direct result of the uncertainties caused by the pandemic in NSW, to date we have had $40,000 worth of forward function bookings cancelled for the period from mid-July to the end of August.

Dr Sydney said the New South Wales lockdown extension until the end of August would mean more cancellations into October. He wrote:

Overall, compared to the same period in July 2019 before the pandemic Parlour’s July 2021 turnover has declined more than 20 per cent.

We know what a boost it is to Canberra’s tourism and hospitality sector when the federal parliament comes to town. Canberra is full of MPs, senators and staffers—not to mention an army of lobbyists—who flock to our restaurants and bars. This is a lucrative time for our many hospitality venues who rely on the pollie trade. It did not help to have the ACT Health Minister in the media last week warning politicians in Canberra for federal sittings this week to avoid pubs and clubs.

Let me be clear, I understand completely the real health challenges that we all face, and the community needs to fight this pandemic and be safe. However, actions have consequences, and the government needs to understand that. If it makes rulings or requests urging people to stay away from our hospitality venues, our businesses actually feel that loss in a very real way. And the government should acknowledge that impact and respond with financial and other support.

Just two days ago the Canberra Times splashed the headline, “Parliament rules a big hit to business.” This is what concerns the Canberra Liberals. Almost 65,000 Canberrans are employed in small business, including tens of thousands in our hospitality sector, and many are being hit hard.

The article says that Canberra businesses fear being crippled by the COVID-restrictive parliamentary sitting period. What the article failed to mention was that many hospitality venues are already there. They are already crippled. The Australian Hotels Association reported that the situation for hotels is dire, and we know that. This is why the government last month announced that hotel and tourism operators could claim up to $75,000 in rebates, which Chief Minister Barr said should help about 90 per cent of providers and 20 privately owned tourism venues. But accommodation, tourism and hospitality work hand in hand. So it beggars belief that the government can unveil a support package for tourism and accommodation while ignoring our hospitality venues.

Just yesterday the Australian newspaper had an article in which Homelessness Australia said that families and small-business owners who had lost their livelihoods in the pandemic were a growing group of people seeking homelessness services.

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