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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3382 ..

shows and events and venues closed down as a consequence of the lockdown and social distancing restrictions. But they have been resilient, and they are coming back soon. They have understood the necessity and now they are ready to try and do what they can. The government and the Assembly need to do what we can.

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (4.38): Before I begin, I would like to congratulate Ms Cheyne and Mr Steel for rising to the occasion and being two of the most condescending, disrespectful politicians here in the ACT Assembly! Congratulations, if that was your goal, because you rightly deserve to be called those things today. Ms Cheyne said that Ms Castley needed to do her research. Can I point out that Ms Castley has done her research quite extensively and she is far more competent at representing businesses as shadow minister than Ms Cheyne is as minister. If you look at the Access Canberra website, it still says that the parking fees are effective from 1 July 2021 and it lists how much parking costs when you park in the city centre or in town centres. She has done her research. It may be that the Minister for Business and Better Regulation has done her research; she may know that Access Canberra is very outdated and needs to be updated as soon as possible.

MS CHEYNE: No; it is correct.

MRS KIKKERT: So, it is actually costing people to park elsewhere in Canberra, rather than being a free car park? Anyway, you have had your turn.

I thank Ms Castley for bringing this motion before the Assembly today. A strong night-time economy adds vibrancy and distinctiveness to a location. It nurtures the creative and artistic industries without which cities become sterile and soulless. It also helps to foster social cohesion and a sense of inclusion as we spend time together, enjoying shared pursuits and pleasures. Most of what we would label “culture” takes place in our lives during evenings and on weekends. As COVID restrictions have reminded us, without the ability to gather for social and structural pursuits, life becomes stark and lonely.

Of course, those who work in the night-time economy have been disproportionately impacted by lockdowns and restrictions over the past 20 months. These workers are not few, either, making up two in every 15 people employed in Canberra. Clearly, for the sake of literally everyone involved, it is time now to supercharge the recovery of our cities and the night-time economy.

This motion calls for simple common sense, but the government’s rejection of this worthwhile motion highlights that common sense is not always common practice, especially in this Assembly run by the Labor-Greens government. The motion calls on two commonsense measures to be implemented over the next few months to encourage more Canberrans back into town centres, thereby giving a boost to the more than 1,800 businesses that make up Canberra’s core night-time economy: (1) make ACT government parking free after 6 pm and on weekends and (2) make all public transport free after 6 pm and on weekends.

Supporting businesses and events through free public transport is something the government already does. Eight years ago, when I took my children to the

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