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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2619 ..


As you are aware, Madam Speaker, in April this year the Canberra Liberals, through shadow minister for business, Leanne Castley, called on the ACT Labor-Greens government to establish a small business ministerial advisory council, and every single member of the Labor and Greens parties voted against it. If it had been established, it would have been a direct voice of business to government, to provide strategic and insightful feedback direct to the—

Ms Cheyne: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, under standing order 52 members should not reflect adversely on a vote that has taken place in this place.

MADAM SPEAKER: That is a good reminder to members to keep that in mind. Ms Lee.

MS LEE: If it had been established it would have been the direct voice of business to government, to provide strategic and insightful feedback direct to government about what businesses need at this critical time. Small businesses are the engine room for our economy, but, more than that, they are our fellow Canberrans. They are our mums, they are our dads, they are our friends and they are our neighbours—and they are hurting.

The reality is that this government has the opportunity to admit they do not necessarily have all the answers, and no-one will hold that against them because no-one has all the answers in this time. The health minister this morning dismissed a call for a plan from thousands of Canberrans by saying that we are in uncertain times. This is true. But what is also true is that the Canberra community deserves to be treated with respect.

No-one is asking for something to be set in stone that will be held against this government if the pandemic circumstances deteriorate significantly. As one industry leader said to me:

Canberrans get it. They want a plan. But they are also aware that there is a pretty big asterisk next to any plan that is announced at this time.

Today this government has a choice to make—the choice to support my motion, support small business, and support Canberrans who are doing the right thing at the cost of their own mental wellbeing, their own financial security and those of their family and staff, who desperately need our support.

I call on this government to define a clear path forward to ACT businesses, including a clear and transparent plan for the safe transition out of lockdown. I call on this government to establish a COVID-19 business recovery task force to be a direct voice of business to the government to assist in the territory’s economic recovery. I call on this government to provide hope to the thousands of Canberrans who feel their voices are not heard. (Time expired.)

MS CASTLEY (Yerrabi) (3.14): I rise today in full support of Ms Lee’s notice of motion, calling on the government to establish a COVID-19 business recovery task


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