'Go Local First' this Christmas to help Canberra business - 22/12/2022

22 December 2021

Whether you have a spring in your step heading into the Christmas break or feel that you are limping towards the finish line, Canberrans are well and truly due for a hard-earned break and some celebration.

After the bushfires, smoke, hail and lockdowns of 2020 – we all had high hopes for 2021. But the COVID-19 pandemic had other ideas and the virus has taken a toll on all of us to varying degrees this year.

Our frontline workers continued to rise to the challenge and supported our community throughout. Families juggled remote learning while working from home. School students were separated from their classmates, including those completing Year 12 under these challenging circumstances. People missed out on sports and socialising. Weddings have been cancelled and funerals limited to much less than the farewell families wanted to give.

Border closures have kept families and loved ones apart, sometimes in the very hardest of circumstances.

Canberra’s small businesses have had a horror two years beginning with the bushfires. Before the ACT’s own nine-week lockdown in the second half of this year, the extended lockdowns and border closures around the country were already taking a huge toll on tourism to our capital.

It wasn’t just the loss of income that hurt business. The health measures that successfully contained the spread of the virus also caused supply chain disruptions. As a result, many businesses are still struggling to get back on their feet now.

That’s why I am urging Canberrans, where they can, to help our local businesses by deciding to ‘Go Local First’ when getting festive this Christmas and New Year. Whether it’s shopping for presents, ordering a ham for Christmas Day, or some gay apparel – it’s a great opportunity to support Canberra business.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy (accounting for about one-third of Australia’s GDP) and are crucial to keep the country running, and they help to make our city the Canberra that we love. A full economic recovery from the pandemic won’t be possible without them.

In Canberra, there are about 30,000 private sector businesses which provide employment and services to our city. We’ve all done it tough this year, but they’ve done it especially hard and deserve our support.

I’ve no doubt Canberrans will rise to the occasion, having already shown ourselves to be a caring community through our continued response the pandemic this year, in trying circumstances. We followed the health advice and got ourselves vaccinated at the highest rates in the world.

Even though the unknown prospect of Omicron hangs over our heads, we have much to be thankful for and to look forward to. 2022 brings the promise of booster shots and vaccinations for our children. State borders re-opening also brings long-awaited family reunions over the holiday season.

It’s been exhausting, but Canberrans should be proud of their response in what are historically extraordinary times. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year and hope you all enjoy a well-deserved break with friends and family.