Rebooted ChooseCBR scheme must support businesses owned by multicultural Canberrans


The Labor-Greens Government ignored Canberra business owners from the multicultural community in its failed ChooseCBR scheme and must include targeted support for them when the program is revived.

In December last year, Canberra Liberals Leader Elizabeth Lee wrote to Business Minister Tara Cheyne asking what government support was available to ensure that businesses run by Canberrans with English as a second language (ESL) could be involved in the voucher scheme.

“My team and I have spoken with many business owners about the ChooseCBR voucher program,” said Ms Lee.

“Many small businesses across Canberra are run by individuals and families with English as a second language. Unfortunately, many of these business owners had never heard of the ChooseCBR scheme; let alone have any information or support to access the scheme.

“Those who had, found it too difficult to access the program due to language and other barriers. It would have been great to see the program rolled out in a way to ensure the ease for all businesses to sign up and get involved.

“The Minister responsible for administering the scheme, who is also Multicultural Affairs Minister, never responded to my letter or addressed what steps were taken to ensure business owners from our multicultural community understood and had support to access the scheme,” Ms Lee concluded.

Shadow Minister for Businesses, Leanne Castley, said it is no wonder only 336 of Canberra’s 30,000 small businesses signed up to the trial.

“Administration costs were a staggering $123,000 out of a total $500,000 spend, but still the Minister could not explain what, if anything, the government was doing to make sure small businesses run by traders with English as a second language could participate,” said Ms Castley.

“The rebooted scheme will not be a success if such a big group of small businesses cannot understand how to sign up and participate.

“So much for supporting Canberra’s struggling small business sector.

“I call on the Minister to explain how the rebooted scheme will be different this time and how she will ensure all of Canberra’s small businesses can participate so no one is left out,” Ms Castley concluded.