2 July 2021

NSW Dine & Discover to be expanded while controversy continues to dog ChooseCBR

| Kim Treasure
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Screenshot of ChooseCBR website under maintenance

The ChooseCBR website, as seen in its non-operational state on Thursday, 10 June. Photo: Screenshot.

While controversy continues to dog the ACT’s ChooseCBR voucher scheme, across the border the NSW Government’s Dine & Discover program has proven so successful the Opposition successfully called for its expansion from 31 July until 31 August, 2021.

Under the Dine & Discover program, all NSW residents aged 18 and above are able to apply for four $25 vouchers, with two to be used for dining in at restaurants, cafes, bars, wineries, pubs or clubs, and two for use for entertainment or recreation.

The vouchers are easily downloadable on the Service NSW app and can be printed out at a Service NSW office.

By comparison, the ACT’s ChooseCBR online voucher scheme was plagued by technical difficulties and vouchers were exhausted in just over 24 hours.

READ MORE ChooseCBR: How not to run a stimulus program

The NSW program has already delivered a combined consumer spend of more than $357 million across 14,000 participating businesses. Almost $200 million has been spent in Sydney establishments, while half that amount has been spent in regional NSW.

ACT Government figures revealed that 19 Canberra businesses redeemed more than 500 ChooseCBR vouchers each, and 133 businesses redeemed more than 100 vouchers each before the $2 million scheme ended.

Almost 40 per cent of the vouchers were claimed at stores such as grocers, with Daily Market Groceries’ City and Gungahlin stores topping the list, receiving 3.3 per cent of all vouchers redeemed.

In the ACT, the opposition party, Canberra Liberals, is pushing for a full audit of the stimulus scheme.

READ ALSO Top 100 benefitting businesses from ChooseCBR voucher scheme released

By contrast, in NSW the Opposition urged the state government to expand the Dine & Discover program, and issue a new, one-off $25 voucher to everyone in Greater Sydney, to support local jobs and small businesses during the course of the recently announced COVID-19 lockdown.

“This would be a much needed boost for local businesses, which have just seen their entire cash flow put at risk overnight,” said NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns.

“Our plan also gives people the opportunity to enjoy a meal, support a local business, and make staying at home and following health orders just that little bit more bearable.”

On Tuesday, 29 June, the NSW Government responded, extending the Dine & Discover vouchers until 31 August, 2021, and allowing them to be used for takeaway from eligible businesses. Food must be delivered direct to the home by the restaurant and not picked up, and third-party delivery platforms cannot be used.

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phillipbusinesscommunity1:41 pm 02 Jul 21

The Phillip Business Community has been calling on the ACT Government to take supporting small business seriously for over 12 months now. Feedback, about how easily raught the scheme could be – it would have been quite simple to just call friends in other towns and get them to register and pass on the vouchers.

The major disappointment that a business that didn’t close during Covid, and anecdotally did better with people eating at home and buying more produce, was able to take out such a massive chunk of the scheme – and other businesses who desperately needed it either had to work their butts off for very little or missed out completely due to the glitches and small amount dedicated to the scheme.

Suddenly the language has changed from “it’s to support small business” to “it’s to stimulate the economy” – and again Small Businesses overall have been forgotten and ignored.

Congrats to the winners, shame the system wasn’t designed with those truly needy businesses at heart.

Would small businesses have preferred a fairer and more equitably applied reduction in their rates? This would be more efficient than a consumer voucher scheme, helping all businesses directly. The priority of a business assistance scheme must be to benefit struggling businesses, not a narrow cohort of app using consumers. Epic fail from the Minister For Business Failures.

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