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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2390 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

Neighbourhood centres serve the needs of people with few options and provide an essential support function which enables those members of the community to retain their independence.

That assessment proposed a number of measures, either to encourage revival of the neighbourhood centre or to minimise the impact. It reported, significantly, that consultations during the study found that there was only limited support for the restriction of trading hours. It is clear that there is an overwhelming preference for unrestricted trading hours. They are, obviously, popular with shoppers, who have voted with their feet. Unquestionably, many people also want the convenience of their neighbourhood shops; they are, in some circumstances, very important. The Government has adopted none of those recommendations. After setting up these studies, and after the exhaustive work of Mr Hyndes, the recommendations were not accepted. Quite clearly, the Government thought that some regulation would suggest to the community that something would happen and that they were doing something. They seemed simply to be making a gesture or having the appearance of doing something. That is what has brought this shambles of a result.

There are two likely outcomes of this proposed legislation. One outcome will be that a quite large number of shoppers will give up their right to shop at an hour of their choosing, if that is the later time. The other outcome will be that they will divert to group centres. I do not think there would be much dispute about that. Mr Humphries thought there might be some very small overflow to the neighbourhood centres. They will go to their group centres or they will shop earlier in the town centres, but they will not go to the local centres. Mr Humphries thought that the overflow would be very small. That may be so, but they will not go to their local centres. It is as simple as that. It is not going to achieve anything.

I will tell Mr Humphries why even those few people who do go to their small local shops will not go to their local centres, and why this will not work. On Tuesday, Mr Humphries said that when we are coming home late at night from work and we suddenly realise that we do not have any milk in the house, we want to be able to go to our small local corner store and buy something there on a small scale at that time of day or night. There is quite a conflict of statements there. He says that he wants the small corner store to be open late at night; but that is just what he is trying not to do. Mr Humphries is trying to get them a bit more accessibility during earlier hours, but he wants to go there, as people do, for a bottle of milk or a few other groceries. That does not make those local neighbourhood centres viable. That is not going to work. Mr Humphries might want to use them, and a number of other citizens might too; but that will not work.

The centres are going broke because that is the use they are getting. It is not enough for them, and it does not work that way. Mr Humphries's confused thinking, as revealed in that statement, is one of the reasons why we have a confused Bill that does not do anything to solve the problem. That is why we have this shambles. The Government's answer is no solution. Either the people will shop at a different time in the town centre or they will go to the group centre. If they go to the group centre, for the most part,

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