Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 2997 ..
MR BARR: The single largest initiative in the budget is the business support grants. The budget speech is necessarily contained to a reasonable period of time. If colleagues would like me to spend several hours going through every single element of the budget, I could deliver! My colleagues who have heard me talk about the budget would all nod and say that I could make a three-hour budget speech. But, Madam Speaker, convention and protocol normally suggest that you confine your comments to around 20 to 25 minutes, which is what I do. In relation to the number of items and things that you can mention, I think that, of all the budget analysis, the question of how many times a certain thing is mentioned in a budget speech has to be amongst the weakest commentary you ever hear about budgets.
Ms Lee: Madam Speaker, a point of order.
MADAM SPEAKER: Resume your seat.
Ms Lee: That was part of the preamble, but the question was: why does your budget not provide more support for small business?
MADAM SPEAKER: The minister is speaking about small business and I am sure he will get to that point. There is no point of order.
MR BARR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. There are a number of initiatives and, if the analyst had bothered to delve into the detail of the budget, she would have seen that there are initiatives across export industries, and that the small business hardship scheme specifically referenced “small business”, together with support for tourism, arts, accommodation, sport and fitness. In the ACT context, nearly all of those are small business. So the totality of investment to build a bridge over the pandemic for business has been close to half a billion dollars. That is the equivalent of building a new football stadium for Canberra. That is the totality just of the grants and tax concessions, let alone the fact that economic development is seven per cent of the budget spend, a very significant spend.
MADAM SPEAKER: Ms Lee.
MS LEE: Chief Minister, if, as you say, you have plenty of things in the budget for business, why is it that the MBA, the AHA, CPA Australia and the Canberra Business Chamber have all come out to call this a business-light budget? Is that why you did not front up and appear live to answer questions at the Canberra Business Chamber virtual budget breakfast?
MR BARR: The organisations are free to make whatever commentary they want, but the numbers speak for themselves in terms of the expenditure associated with business support, hardship grants, tax concessions, the future job fund, the international engagement strategy and the fact that the ACT has had the fastest business growth of any jurisdiction in Australia; more new businesses than any other state or territory. Every month, since the data has been collected, there are more new business entries than there are exits, which is why the ACT sees growth month on month in the number of businesses operating in the territory.