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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2621 ..


lengthy application and processing times, changing of goal posts on what documentation is to be provided, and being denied access to premises to fill online orders for click and collect. Salons that have had to leave washing machines full of wet towels. There has been confusion about the length of support packages, and complications over ACT and New South Wales border regulations to name a few, not to mention the fact that the vast majority of our businesses are waiting for financial help.

I still have a job and a fortnightly pay cheque. So does everyone in this Assembly chamber. But many Canberrans are not so fortunate, which is why many people feel desperate. They are the people Canberra Liberals leader, Ms Lee, is addressing in her motion today—the mighty small business warriors who toil day in and day out, and employ thousands of Canberrans yet rarely get a proper look-in with this government.

Earlier this year, I moved a motion calling on the government to establish a small business ministerial council, and we know the outcome. Is it because this government does not want to hear from the business community, a community which feels let down? They feel let down by government.

As a former small business owner, I worry most about the struggling operators—the gardeners, hairdressers, music teachers, builders, beauty therapists, retailers, hire car drivers, fencing specialists, handymen, gym owners, dry cleaners and taekwondo instructors. I refer to the hairdresser with several salons in grave danger of not surviving this lockdown who quotes herself as having a small tribe of primary-aged kids. I refer to the garage door and fencing business that has stood down most of its 30 staff and wonders how long it can continue to function this way.

I fear for the small builder and father of three who employs 14 staff and wonders, “Should we just sit here with our heads in the sand and watch everyone go broke?” I fear for the beauty therapist in my electorate of Yerrabi who writes: “Bills are piling up. Small operators are floundering, and this is putting even further strain on my already fragile business”.

I also refer to the cafes and bars that have not fully recovered from last year’s lockdowns and will not be able to cover the costs involved in the one person per four metre rule. What about the events companies that have had no work since March 2020? There are no events on the horizon, so they are facing no income until 2022. That is almost two years without money coming in, yet the overheads still exist—insurance, vehicle costs, commercial rent, bank fees and, let’s not forget, their personal mortgages and families to feed.

Small businesses are bleeding across Canberra, yet five weeks after lockdown the overwhelming number are still waiting for financial support. This is hopeless. Considering the ACT government’s own promised small business hardship scheme offering credits of $10,000 for fees and charges will not kick off until October, and businesses are still in the dark about details, what help is that?

Business expenses exist every day, every month and every year, and they increase. A couple of months ago I read in the Canberra Times a story about photographers


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