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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3374 ..

have from the government? We have, “We will continue working with businesses.” That is a good idea; we support that notion. The government supports the notion “to identify ways to encourage more Canberrans into town centres” except when you provide practical assistance to achieve that very outcome. We support the idea of that, but when we provide a proposal that will practically accomplish it, it is not good enough!

Further, Mr Steel’s amendment suggests “exploring further opportunities for outdoor dining”. It is good to explore these things. I want to commend the government for rising to a new level. A new level! Ms Castley, I think the Canberra Liberals can take some credit for this. We are moving the government in the right direction. They are willing to explore things—isn’t that wonderful? There is a suggestion of the activation of unleased public spaces. Certainly, it is a good idea to consider, but there is no support for any practical measures to implement things.

Further, Mr Steel’s amendment would explore COVID-safe public events linked to major seasonal celebrations like Christmas and New Year. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the town centres so busy and the night-time economy so busy during these coming festive seasons? This is exactly what Ms Castley’s motion will produce. Minister Steel and Minister Cheyne will still be exploring it by the time we are into the New Year.

During this crucial period of post-COVID recovery, I think the community deserves more. The government should be ashamed of not supporting practical measures to support the ACT business community, particularly the night-time economy, to move out of restrictions and into normal life. I commend Ms Castley’s motion to the Assembly and wholeheartedly reject Mr Steel’s amendments.

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (4.09): How exciting is it that we are having a debate in this place about the night-time economy, because it speaks to how well this city has responded to the pandemic; it speaks to the tremendous effort of frontline healthcare workers, who have been leading the charge to keep Canberra safe and strong; and it speaks to every Canberran that took the hard decision to lock down, to test and to vaccinate. And, now, with an easing of restrictions this week and continued good public health practices, we can get back out into our streets, our suburbs and our city, stimulate our economy, see our friends and have a feed and a drink. It is a credit to ACT Health that we are here.

This motion gives us the opportunity to talk about the role of public transport and the night-time economy in supporting our economy and our community as we recover from these last 18 months. The ACT economy, in large part thanks to this public health response, has been one of the most resilient in the world. This does not mean that there is no work to do. The ACT Greens will be supporting the amendments to this motion put forward by Minister Steel, which reflect the work the government is currently doing to support the use of public transport for people to travel into our town centres at night, as well as calling on the government to continue to find important opportunities to breathe life into our urban and suburban town centres.

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