7 June 2022

Free hawkers licences for food vans, market stalls lauded as 'making business easier'

| Lottie Twyford
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Food van

Before setting up a permanent shop, businesses like BrodBurger began life as a humble food van. Photo: Ash St George.

Canberra’s business community has welcomed the news the ACT Government will permanently abolish hawker permit fees from next month.

These fees were waived during the pandemic to support business recovery.

Hawker permits are required by small businesses like food trucks that trade on unleased public land.

A person must hold a hawker permit if trading in a location for longer than 30 minutes.

Minister for Business and Better Regulation Tara Cheyne said the move would benefit small businesses by giving them more opportunities to trade in public spaces.

“Many popular Canberra businesses have started as food vans or market stalls before establishing permanent business shop fronts,” she explained.

Tara Cheyne

Minister for Business and Better Regulation Tara Cheyne said abolishing hawker permit fees would help small businesses. Photo: Region Media.

Hawker permits let businesses trade on unleased public land and sell a variety of items, including food and drink, flowers, art, jewellery and clothing.

Businesses will still need to apply for a permit, but the fees, that range from $25 to $150 a month, will be abolished.

The Pop Inn

The Pop Inn has been operating around Canberra since 2017. Photo: The Pop Inn.

Owner of The Pop Inn Kimberley Ohayon – one of the small businesses which would benefit from the waiver – described the news as welcome and exciting.

“It shows a real commitment to support innovative established and emerging businesses in Canberra, as well as removing barriers so that businesses can continue to build vibrancy and community across the city,” she said.

“It shows the government is listening to small businesses and looking for ways to make doing business easier.

“This will help create more opportunity to activate public places and for businesses to engage with the community across Canberra.”

The Pop Inn has been operating since 2017 and it has since proved popular with Canberrans, scooping up numerous awards along the way.

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CEO of the Canberra Business Chamber Graham Catt agreed with Ms Ohayon’s assessment, noting the business community welcomed anything which made doing business in the ACT easier.

“This really started in COVID-19 when businesses needed to be able to grab some chairs and set up outside when density limits were in place indoors,” he explained.

“So now the government has just decided to leave that in the place going forwards, which I welcome.

“We’ve said for a long time to government that the biggest cost of doing business isn’t necessarily the cost of the permit itself but the cost of just doing business with government – even small things can take up a big amount of time.”

Mr Catt didn’t think established businesses would see this as direct competition.

Instead, he said opening a food truck can be an easy way for a cafe or restaurant to branch out into a new location without the worry and cost of renting premises and the like.

“Then, obviously, it’s an easy way for a business to get started.”

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