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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2600 ..

is the only jurisdiction in the country which has closed down car sales and deliveries. Minister, why are ACT businesses being penalised and, as a result, losing clients to New South Wales competitors, which can deliver cars while our local businesses are not allowed to?

MADAM SPEAKER: Are you taking this question, Ms Stephen-Smith?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Yes, because I am Minister for Health, and the Chief Health Officer is responsible for public health directions, under which, at the moment, our car dealerships are not able to operate. But that is an ongoing conversation with the Chief Health Officer, and we should have more to say about that in the next little while.

MS CASTLEY: Minister, what do you say to Canberran family car dealerships, who employ hundreds of workers—they sponsor footy teams; they contribute to the community—while they watch business go across the border and are unable to meet interest payments on cars that they are not allowed to sell?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Castley for the supplementary question. Of course, we absolutely understand that lockdown is very difficult. It is difficult for individuals and it is difficult for many businesses and business owners. We understand that, but we are in a lockdown. We are in a lockdown because we are in a global pandemic and because the delta variant has changed the game in terms of its transmissibility.

Mr Hanson interjecting—

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: So we are working through issues with a wide range of industries and businesses, to understand what can go ahead safely. But it is about cumulative risk. We have talked about this many times. If we have more people moving around the ACT doing all manner of small things that, by themselves, do not seem to create any public health risk, together they involve more people moving around, more people coming together and more people meeting up. I understand that things can be done contactlessly, but some often have to come together to do part of that job. That is the balance that we are constantly trying to strike. We recognise that it is very difficult, and that is why the Chief Minister has worked so hard—including with the Commonwealth government and his colleague Mr Frydenberg, the federal Treasurer—to ensure that we also have business supports in place.

MR PARTON: Minister, have you spoken personally to any of these local car dealers since lockdown, and when will you allow them to trade like the rest of the nation’s car industry, which is facing the same delta variant as us?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Parton for the supplementary question. No, I have not personally spoken to any of these car dealerships, but I am very, very conscious of the issue. As I said in response to Ms Castley’s first question, it is the topic of active conversation with the Chief Health Officer at the moment. We are certainly very well aware of this particular issue.

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