Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 September 2017) . . Page.. 3937 ..
Ms Cheyne interjecting—
It is one thing to do the pain; it is another to not get the gain. Despite Ms Cheyne’s interjections—and having a go at us about interjecting—I very much hope that she too would stick up for small business in Canberra and advocate for some certainty and some confidence for these people in return for the risks and opportunities they create.
MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (10.51): I thank Mr Wall for bringing forward this important motion highlighting the impact of light rail on the businesses in Mitchell. I want to add that it is affecting not just businesses in Mitchell but also many areas of Gungahlin. I have recently been talking to members of the business community in the Gungahlin town centre. The place sure is a mess, and it is affecting business. The problem, of course, is that when there is a mess, people simply do not want to shop in the Gungahlin town centre. It is unattractive, dirty and noisy, and the lack of access is prohibitive.
The business owners commented that they have had to keep the doors closed at all times, in effect, looking as though they are not open for business, but not because of the weather—though at the time of the year you could be excused for thinking that—but because of the dirt and dust. Debris from the construction works continues to make its way into their shops, and there appears to be no end in sight. This will, no doubt, get worse before it gets better as the dry weather increases. Others commented about the noise. One business owner told me that there are days when the noise from the machinery does not stop. There is no doubt that noise has been a significant problem right along the route of the tram works for businesses and residents.
A few shop owners in Gungahlin Place were told the additional works would take only a matter of six weeks, but that was some months ago now. The fencing around the works has made it difficult to access the Gungahlin village and shops, and it has put people off making the effort. This brings me to perhaps the most significant problem aside from the dust, dirt, noise and lack of access—the cost of the works to businesses and the community. Some businesses have told me there has been a significant drop in trade, with some recording up to a 30 per cent drop in turnover. One shop commented that they have had to lay off full-time staff because they can no longer afford to keep them as a result of the drop-off in trade.
I agree with Mr Wall and call on the government to communicate and consult with the community. It is time to let them know what is happening and how long these disruptions will continue. But the government should also be exploring with them what compensation can be offered to those businesses severely impacted by the construction of the light rail, or all we will end up with is a series of empty shopfronts in what was once an expanding area of the town.
MR WALL (Brindabella) (10.54): The government has been very keen to point out that the Liberals have not been big supporters of this project, and that is true. Up to the lead-up to last year’s election we on this side of the chamber believed there were higher priority and better infrastructure investments that the territory could be making.