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Comprehensive Audit of ChooseCBR Scheme

Thank you, Madam Speaker, and I thank Ms Castley for bringing this very important motion before the Assembly today. This motion does a good job of addressing the broad range of concerns that have been reported to me personally.

I have heard from constituents who were excited to try a new business using the ChooseCBR scheme when it was first relaunched, received the service, and when they went to pay, they were charged full price because the scheme had been taken off-line. Others who work during the day have told me of plans to use a voucher on the weekend only to find out that the scheme had ended before they could get to the shop. I have heard of people walking out of restaurants and other businesses when they realised they couldn’t actually use the vouchers they had downloaded. It has been a headache for nearly everyone.

Business owners have let me know that attempting to participate in the scheme actually cost them more money in set-up costs than they ever received from voucher-supported purchases. Others noted that they had bought extra perishable stock for the relaunch of the scheme, which they then lost when it the site was forced to be taken down. Other business owners tried to register for the scheme but never could get it to work, nor could they get the customer care they needed to make this happen.

Both business owners and residents have raised serious concerns with me directly that the scheme did not successfully target businesses most impacted by COVID-19, instead creating a free-for-all that benefitted shops that were actually doing fine. There seems to be a consensus that the government did not get the balance right when it comes to eligibility or what vouchers could be used for, and in many cases the scheme was so poorly thought through that it actually did more harm than good for many Canberrans.

As one constituent said, it is essential that the government is fully transparent with the data generated from the scheme instead of hiding behind made-up privacy concerns. The economy will recover, but it should not be at the expense and heartbreak of Canberrans. Those opposite frequently speak of the importance of government transparency. This government has proved time and time again that their real priority is on money and not on people. I have seen it in their child protection and AMC. And when their motivation is driven by money, they are poorly selling themselves short and showing their tired old incompetence. Ms Castley’s motion is the perfect opportunity to find out if they actually believe what they say.

I commend this motion to the Assembly.


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