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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 August 2021) . . Page.. 2311 ..

The Chief Minister has written to the commonwealth Treasurer to urge the federal government to do its bit, and I am sure the Chief Minister will talk about this in more detail. The federal government should be developing a nationally consistent approach where the COVID-19 disaster payment is extended to eligible employers and employees who have been affected by a lockdown in another jurisdiction.

It is pleasing to see the Canberra Liberals make such a clear statement on their belief in the role of government—surprising perhaps, but welcome! The role of the ACT government is to use the levers we have available to us to provide effective and targeted support. We have done that and we will continue to do that, engaging with industry and within the reality in which decisions on support measures are made.

As a government, we have worked and will continue to work with industry stakeholders to tailor measures that are appropriate, are proportionate, are targeted and do reduce the administrative burden on businesses—one of the many reasons why automatic fee waivers and automatic extensions are such a great tool. But the federal government must realise it has a role in this and respond appropriately, and we look forward to the commonwealth Treasurer’s response to the Chief Minister’s letter.

I trust that as an Assembly we are united on the federal government’s role, and I commend my amendment to the Assembly.

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (3.26): I rise to speak to the impact of COVID-19 on Canberra’s business and tourism sector. The ACT Greens will support the amendment from Minister Cheyne to the motion from Ms Castley. I thank Ms Castley for her motion and giving me yet another opportunity to rise in this house and profess the ACT Greens’ strong support for Canberra’s small, medium and family-sized businesses.

As a previous small business owner and a small business employee throughout my pre-parliamentary career, I feel deeply for those who have lost their jobs and those who have experienced a downturn in trade over the last 18 months since the beginning of the pandemic. I commend the ACT government, particularly the Minister for Business and Better Regulations and the Treasurer, for their swift, innovative and strategic work to ensure the ACT’s unemployment rates remain low and our retail turnovers remain strong. This is especially worthy of praise considering the significant and sometimes abrupt changes to trade that our businesses have experienced both from our lockdown last year and the impact of other jurisdictions having to continue to lock down.

The amendment we are supporting today strengthens Ms Castley’s motion by providing the government with the flexibility it needs to appropriately respond to the economic challenges that lie ahead. Importantly, by supporting this amendment the ACT Greens are amplifying the call from the Chief Minister to the federal government to design their disaster relief packages around business turnover, not just geographical location.

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