Business owners have joined calls for the ACT Government to suspend commercial rates, as restriction on gatherings and eateries slashes trade.
In an effort to support their tenants during the pandemic the owners of Federation Square in Gold Creek Village, John and Lyn Anderson, have told them they won’t need to pay rent for April.
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“We were just on the phone to the Chief Minister’s office and we were told ‘we’ve got to share the pain,'” he said.
“Well I’d like to know what pain is the ACT Government doing at this stage?
“We need help.”
Last week, the ACT Government announced $137 million in stimulus measures, including waivers on food business registration fees, liquor licence fees and payroll tax, as well as rebates to help small businesses with power bills.
Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said the stimulus measures announced by the ACT Government aren’t enough.
“One way or another this is very difficult times for many, many businesses,” Mr Coe said.
“There simply shouldn’t be commercial rates being charged – at least for affected businesses but perhaps right across the board.
“There’s no shortage of businesses that are paying more than $2500 per quarter in commercial rates.
“The government should be far more compassionate than what we are seeing at the moment.”
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has called the current situation a “once in a century economic crisis” and warned that no level of federal or territory government stimulus will fully offset the crisis.
The ACT budget has been postponed until later in the financial year, and Mr Barr has promised additional stimulus measures will be announced over the coming weeks.
Legal services brace for rise in domestic violence
Community legal services are preparing for a 30 per cent increase in domestic violence cases in Canberra, as more people stay home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Legal AID ACT Chief Executive John Boersig said statistics from countries where lockdowns had already been put in place showed a rise in demand.
“Sadly, we’re expecting an increase in workload, this is around issues of domestic violence,” Mr Boersig said.
Family violence specialists will be working around the clock to support those in need.
No longer able to conduct face-to-face services, a dedicated phone service has been set up.
Some lawyers are still working in the office, while others have a set up a home office.
“As an essential service, Legal AID ACT is open, trying to ensure that people have access to the right legal advice,” Mr Boersig said.
“If people have any concerns or issues, they should ring the helpline.
“It is open every day and if we are unable to take the call at night, there is a message bank and we’ll get back to you the next day.
“People in that situation need protection, we arrange for protection orders through the courts, we have a system set up that means we can make the applications remotely so that they can get the assistance they need.”
The Legal Aid ACT helpline is 1300 653 314.
If this story has raised issues for you, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If your life is being threatened call Triple Zero (000).
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