What I’m hearing
Businesses are still suffering significant impacts from the pandemic and facing critical workforce shortages. They’re experiencing supply-chain disruptions and rising costs. Business owners and employees alike are concerned about ensuring we have a robust economy – one that is creating jobs, growing wages and building the industries of the future.
Government has a fundamental role to play in continuing to support our economic recovery from the pandemic. Opportunities abound for promoting public-private partnerships and attracting investment to realise a positive vision for Canberra’s future.
I want businesses to have certainty so they can plan and invest with confidence. I am committed to being a strong voice for business in Canberra, advancing our role in building Australia's future economy.
Delivering a full economic recovery and building future resilience
We need to ensure our local businesses not only recover fully from the impacts of the pandemic, but also bounce back stronger and with greater resilience than before. This means seeking out opportunities to diversify and promote economic growth. Lifting productivity and stimulating business investment are key areas needing attention.
I support reducing the regulatory burden on business and bringing down compliance costs by cutting red tape.
For decades, the ACT has been missing out on its share of federal infrastructure investment. The flow-on benefits from serious nation-building projects, like a new National Convention Centre and Stadium, extend well beyond the construction phase by making Canberra more attractive for major events and tourism.
Rebuilding our public service and ensuring more permanent public service staff are based in Canberra with less reliance on contractors, who are more likely to be in Canberra only temporarily or not at all, is another path to stimulating our local economy.
Addressing workforce shortages
The number one economic issue, for small businesses in particular, remains workforce shortages. More needs to be done to strategically plan and invest in skills and workforce development.
We also need the federal government to be focused on delivering an agile and fit-for-purpose skilled migration program that meets the needs of business.
Implementing policies to welcome back international university students are a priority as they not only make Canberra a more vibrant city, but also help address our current workforce shortages.
Continuing to increase Canberra’s appeal on the international stage will also help to attract and retain more staff locally. This ties back to my other policy intentions around infrastructure investment, affordable housing and reducing the cost of living.
Encouraging business investment
I am a strong advocate for more government assistance in helping small and micro businesses to digitise and otherwise upgrade their operations.
Stimulating greater business investment by further extending the instant asset write-off is one way of continuing to drive growth.
I also support exploring more federal incentives for battery installations that will help lower electricity prices for Canberran businesses while encouraging more investment in renewable energy sources like rooftop solar.
Leveraging government procurement power
We need to make it easier for smaller businesses to tender for federal government contracts and be appointed to standing procurement panels.
Huge opportunities await local businesses if we leverage the power of government procurement to their benefit.
Improving digital connectivity
The pattern of the ACT consistently missing out on a fair share of federal government investment is repeated when it comes to our digital connectivity.
Numerous suburbs across the Territory lack access to the NBN. Even those that do have access often suffer from an inferior Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) connection, which uses outdated copper wiring, rather than the faster and more reliable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connection.
The pandemic has highlighted how vitally important good digital connectivity is for remote learning, maintaining social connection and success in business, with increasing numbers of Canberrans working partly or exclusively from home.
From early 2020 to early 2022, NBN Co. rolled out eight releases enabling customers to apply for a FTTP connection. The ACT was included in only one of them. Of hundreds of suburbs and some 1.78 million homes nationally becoming eligible for NBN upgrades, only 10 ACT suburbs have been included to date.
While there are challenges in upgrading connections for some of Australia’s regional and remote communities, that should not be an excuse in the national capital. Faster, more reliable internet connections will improve productivity and make it easier for Canberra businesses to succeed and prosper. I will advocate for bringing the ACT’s digital connectivity up to speed and fixing weak spots, especially in the southern regions of Canberra that have missed out.
Supporting small business
I know the value of hard work. Hardworking Canberrans whose businesses have been most heavily impacted by the pandemic need our support to help regrow their businesses and continue playing their part in crafting a better future for Canberra.
Despite financial support being provided to help our local businesses stay afloat during the lockdowns themselves, many small-business owners and entrepreneurs find themselves struggling to rebuild momentum that was lost during the pandemic.
Large corporations often have the resources to weather such storms but we should not forget ordinary working Canberrans who’ve taken out loans to start a new business, signed as personal guarantors on long-term commercial leases, offered jobs to a handful of staff and then found themselves unable to operate for months on end.
Now is the time to encourage entrepreneurship, opportunity and growth in Canberra’s small business scene again. We must do more to help rebuild our local businesses and re-engage forward-thinking, risk-taking Canberrans whose livelihoods have been hit hardest in the past two years.
I support such initiatives as the ACT Government’s Innovation Connect Grants, Boosting Innovation Grants and JobTrainer Employment Jumpstart Grants Programs. I am committed to advocating for more investment – in the form of both local and federal programs – for new small businesses and budding entrepreneurs who have the tenacity and desire to innovate in Canberra.