Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3367 ..
I am pleased to introduce this motion on behalf of the many hundreds of small businesses that comprise Canberra’s night-time economy. These small business owners are only now getting back on their feet after the government’s crippling lockdown that smashed the hospitality sector, and they deserve all the support they can get.
That is the purpose of my motion today: to show our support for small business by encouraging customers through the door by calling on the government to provide free parking and free public transport after 6 pm on weekdays and on weekends until March next year.
When we speak about the night-time economy, we refer in general to economic activity that occurs between the hours of 6 pm and the early hours of the morning: retail trade; restaurants; takeaway and cafes; live entertainment; cinema; arts and cultural activities; health and wellbeing services; events; bars and clubs; sporting activities. What a large and diverse group of small businesses. Canberrans and all political leaders should be getting behind them, acknowledging their courage to start and grow their businesses, applauding their admirable work ethic, and honouring their commitment to employ staff and contribute to the vibrant night-time offerings that we all seek.
Small business is the backbone of our economy. The most important thing for small business’s recovery right now is that we support them during the vital trading months of November and December, as well as over the summer season.
Today’s motion calls on the government to play its part in encouraging more Canberrans to eat, drink and shop in the town centres, to help our battered economy bounce back from COVID-19, providing free car parking and free public transport. This will really make a difference in getting Canberrans out and about to enjoy our spring and summer evenings.
The number of small businesses that this initiative will support is significant. More than 1,800 establishments make up Canberra’s core night-time economy, employing a total of 31,000 Canberrans, and generating a whopping 3.35 million in sales turnover in 2019 and 2020, according to the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors in 2021.
The Chief Minister has spoken repeatedly about a consumer-led recovery post-lockdown. Providing free parking and free public transport is a significant way of achieving that. We know that Canberra’s economic recovery relies on small businesses being able to operate, which means getting people through the door and spending. Now that the ACT has reached 95 per cent of our population fully vaccinated, it is time to get people flooding back into town—into Civic, into all of our town centres—in the lead-up to Christmas and the summer months, to stimulate our economy.
This government often speaks about local jobs, but fails to understand that to support local jobs, you have to support small business. Instead, during lockdown, we saw government ignoring business, bungling the financial support scheme for business and,