Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3377 ..
As spokesperson for LGBTQIA+ people, I am also very mindful that the safety of all people in our urban areas is of the utmost importance if we are to create and support a vibrant night-time economy that is inclusive of all people. Basic things like proper lighting, broad and open walkways, accessible ramps, movement of people, and open, thriving businesses, are important to making people feel safe. A safe night out is a good night out. That is why the ACT Greens are really proud to have championed a permanent pill testing site, which will go a long way to ensuring that there is a public health response to the recreational drug use that occurs within our night-time economy.
Pill testing is not just an investment in public health; it is an investment in the sustainability of businesses that trade in the night-time economy. Bars, restaurants and nightclubs should not have to deal with patrons who are experiencing the adverse effects of unknown substances. Pill testing will limit the risk of violence in our venues and keep people safe. Ensuring that this service is accessible, comfortable and safe for people to use recreationally will be key to its success. I look forward to assisting the government to make sure that their funded pilot is effective and sustainable.
I once again thank Ms Castley for her motion. As one of Canberra’s biggest fans of heading out for a night on the tiles, I love the opportunity to spruik the life and culture of our city. I want to ensure that people spend their money in our city and enjoy their time here. Over the last decade Canberra’s night-time economy and restaurant industry has really thrived, and continuing this trend as we emerge from COVID is important. Ensuring that our suburban town centres are safe, accessible and welcoming to everyone is important from a social justice perspective and will build a fun, healthy and sustainable night-time economy.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (4.18): I support Minister Steel’s amendment to Ms Castley’s well-intentioned but ill-informed, if not wilfully ignorant, motion. As Minister Steel noted in his remarks, our businesses—not least those establishments that make up Canberra’s core night-time economy—rely on turnover in parking for their customers. The ACT has a mix of parking arrangements to support different activities in different spaces. As Minister Steel noted, if Ms Castley had bothered to look, she would have seen that the vast majority of our town centres already have free parking after 5.30 pm and all day Saturday and Sunday.
With this motion Ms Castley is trying to claim a win for something that already exists—claiming responsibility for something the ACT government already supports. Whether it is wilful ignorance, misguided information, an attempt to mislead or sheer laziness is anyone’s guess. Even the presenters on 104.7 FM commented this morning about how these parking arrangements exist.
There is no doubt that hospitality businesses have been hit hard by this year’s lockdown, and the ACT government has sought to support them throughout, including by paying out over $475 million in business support since the start of the pandemic and $280 million in grants so far. More broadly, businesses have been provided with