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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3534 ..


work with the Friday Centre, a peer-based navigation and information service. This work will allow AGA to continue to provide this important service while the government scopes options to provide a strong and coordinated health response to the needs of our community. I look forward to advancing LGBTQIA+ issues on behalf of the ACT Greens into the coming year and working in collaboration with the Chief Minister on these issues.

MS CASTLEY (Yerrabi) (4.40): In my role as the shadow minister for business, I wish to speak on the Appropriation Bill 2021-22. Delivering his budget speech on 6 October, the Chief Minister and Treasurer trumpeted that one of the budget’s three priorities was to “turbo-charge our economic recovery”. He went on:

It is the next stage of the government’s plan to support Canberrans through the pandemic and recover from this once-in-a-generation crisis.

The Treasurer also told us that one of the principles underpinning the budget was protecting and creating jobs. On all these measures, the budget failed. This Labor-Greens government has failed. It has failed to support our most courageous Canberrans—our small business owners—and in failing to protect and support our small business owners, it failed to secure our private sector jobs.

It is incredible to think that some Canberra business owners are still waiting for financial support from this government. During yesterday’s COVID select committee, it was revealed that more than 70 businesses are yet to receive financial support. In relation to top-up support payments for tourism, accommodation, arts events and the hospitality sector, a total of 1,053 applications have been received, yet only 675 applications have been paid. To say small business owners are desperate for this financial support is an understatement. The reality is that small business owners have done it tougher than most, largely due to this government’s incompetence and neglect.

Canberra’s struggling business sector looked to this government and this budget for financial support beyond what was already offered through the joint federal-ACT government business support grants. There was nothing. Not only has our small business sector been let down by this government that failed to prepare for the lockdown and provide the clarity and certainty that business needs; it was left out in the cold by a budget that offered nothing extra.

I am one of the lucky ones. Like everyone else in this place, during lockdown I kept my job and fortnightly pay cheque, and my super kept ticking over, but many Canberrans are not so fortunate, particularly small business owners and their employees, which is why so many people felt desperate. I refer to the gardeners and hairdressers, music teachers and builders, beauty therapists and retailers, hire car drivers and fencing specialists, handymen, gym owners, drycleaners and taekwondo instructors—all struggling business owners who wrote to me during lockdown, sharing tales of despair.

A hairdresser with several salons and three small primary-school-aged kids wrote to me saying that she was in grave danger of not surviving this lockdown. A garage-based fencing business that has stood down most of its 30 staff wrote to me,


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