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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2252 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

and which are still under considerable hardship. That safety net is designed to ensure that if those businesses do not find their future viable in their present form they have some way of being able to bail out safely and to restructure their businesses to meet the needs of the future. Mr Speaker, that is the element of Striking a Balance which I think Mr Whitecross referred to before and which I think he said he supported.

The element of proactively preventing or taking off some of the pressure on small businesses in local centres through the trading hours legislation is another matter which the Assembly will debate today. The Government obviously stands by the policies that it has put forward in that legislation and in the rest of the package, but we do not pretend that every answer has been found and that other issues facing retailing do not need further exploration. For example, Mr Moore, when he supported, I understand, an earlier version of this motion, said that the Government had not appropriately addressed the question of retail space and how much space it was appropriate to provide in the ACT. The Ibecon study found that there was an appropriate balance as far as the general provision of retail space was concerned, but there was an oversupply of bulk retailing, things like furniture and whitegoods. Mr Speaker, members obviously have different views about that. Some, I think, doubt that that is true. If that is the case, rather than have the Government proceed to make a whole series of decisions based on propositions which the Assembly, as a whole, may not feel are supported, it will be appropriate to test those propositions through the device the Assembly usually uses, namely, an Assembly inquiry.

MR SPEAKER: Order! It being 45 minutes after the commencement of Assembly business, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 77.

Motion (by Mr Humphries) agreed to:

That the time allotted to Assembly business be extended by 30 minutes.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, we have had a lot to say in this place in recent months about the many inquiries which have been initiated by the Assembly. We certainly have argued against a number of inquiries in the past because of the large number of Government initiatives held up by inquiries of various sorts, particularly legislation which the Government has had some concern about. I have discussed briefly with the chair of the inquiry the question of what impact this inquiry would have. Admittedly, it was when he had his own motion put forward for this purpose rather the motion put by Ms Tucker. I understand the committee's view is that the safety net provisions outlined in Striking a Balance can and should proceed notwithstanding that an inquiry is under way into the effectiveness of those policies. Perhaps they would profit from the fact that the proposals were actually being implemented as the inquiry was going on. On the question of trading hours, trading hours will be voted upon by the Assembly this afternoon. When the Assembly votes on that the Government will implement the policy that is put into legislation, and at the earliest available opportunity. So, Mr Speaker, I do not believe that either of those elements of Striking a Balance need be held up because an inquiry is taking place.

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