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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2631 ..

payroll tax, utility charges, rates and other selected fees and charges; $10,000 commercial rates credit for landlords who offer rent relief to tenants impacted by COVID-19; providing up to $75,000 for individual accommodation providers and $15,000 for small private tourism operators through the accommodation and tourism venue operator support program; and providing up to $15,000 for small tourism operators and boutique accommodation providers through the small tourism operator COVID recovery payment.

Regretfully, rolling out these supports in a transparent and structured way requires time. It requires time to process applications, it requires time to acquit eligibility requirements, and it requires time to get money into bank accounts. It requires time even if over 100 public servants are working seven days a week to get that money out the door. That is the reality of running a government—we are obligated to ensure that government money is spent in a way that avoids fraud but ensures money is going to where it is needed and not into the pockets of those who do not need it. The irony of having to explain this to the Canberra Liberals is plain, after they raked this government backwards and forwards over the coals over the ChooseCBR program, falsely accusing the government of allowing fraud to occur.

The motion put forward by Ms Lee demonstrates that Canberra Liberals have not done their homework. They have wasted this limited opportunity to genuinely advocate for their constituents, by recycling old policy rehashed yet still outdated to stir up anti-government sentiment. As a Green, I am all for recycling under normal circumstances but, frankly, to put forward this PMB asking the government to do what they are already doing is embarrassing, and it shows the Canberra Liberals have not been listening to government and have not been spending time genuinely considering the best interventions they can offer at this sensitive and complex time.

Calling on the government to establish a COVID-19 business recovery task force is asking the government to replicate existing functions. Should we let this motion pass as drafted by Ms Lee, we would waste the already stretched time of our business sector leaders and representatives, senior public servants and ministers by making them rinse and repeat.

I am disappointed that the Canberra Liberals have used every waking moment in this crisis to the ACT government’s response to small business when this government is doing all it humanly can to support Canberrans, with no thanks to the Canberra Liberals’ federal counterparts, who are making it damn near impossible to offer adequate support to those in need. But more on that in a few moments.

This is opposition for opposition’s sake. Frankly, we have seen this unfold all day in this Assembly. We were rightly discussing the need for accountability and transparency earlier this morning in this extremely difficult time, and part of this accountability in the Westminster system is doing this through the opposition. Canberrans expect better. They expect you to learn about and understand what government is already doing so you can help advocate for us to do it better, not advise us to develop functions that already exist!

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