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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 3013 ..

MR MILLIGAN: Minister, why have you said nothing about veterans when it was included in the initial question, which was referring to seniors and veterans?

MS DAVIDSON: Thank you for that question. There is quite a lot of work being done to support veterans in our community. There has been some work done in relation to the royal commission into veteran suicide and making sure that ACT veterans’ experiences are reflected back to federal government in drafting up those terms of reference. The veterans grants program will soon make $80,000 available to projects and activities to support veterans’ and their families’ wellbeing to promote veterans as valued members of our ACT community.

This funding will also have a real lens on it for the impact of COVID-19 on the veteran community. They have had a particularly hard time this year, not just with COVID-19 but also with everything that people have been talking about around what has been happening in Afghanistan. That has been a particularly difficult experience, when they have not been able to get together in the way that they normally would. But they have been incredibly responsive—finding ways to stay connected with each other while the lockdown has been happening. I think that our ESOs and community organisations who have been supporting that work are to be congratulated for the efforts that they have made to make sure that people are staying socially connected at a very challenging time.

Budget—business support

MS CASTLEY: My question is to the Minister for Business. Yesterday the Canberra Times carried the headline, “Business groups have slammed the ACT budget,” featuring a range of business groups criticising the budget for providing no new support for crippled small businesses. The Canberra Business Chamber’s Graham Catt called on the government to guarantee that local Canberra businesses will get tenders and grants to support large infrastructure projects such as light rail. Why was there no new support for small business in your budget beyond the schemes that are already operating?

MR BARR: Madam Speaker, given the question strays mostly into areas I have responsibility for, I will take the question. In relation to the final part of Ms Castley’s question, I draw her attention to the Canberra region local industry participation policy that has amongst its other requirements; that the territory entity must, of course, pursue value for money in procurement; that there be no discrimination consistent with national and international agreements—free trade agreements, Ms Castley, which your party likes to champion; and the third point is enhancing opportunities for local businesses.

So within any ACT government procurement, depending on the value of the procurement, there must either be a local industry participation plan or, indeed, an economic contribution test for each procurement depending on the value of the procurement. That has a positive weighting in favour of business also from the Canberra region. We do extend beyond the borders of the ACT to make that economic contribution test, because clearly there are a lot of businesses that operate in the

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