25 June 2021

Top 100 benefitting businesses from ChooseCBR voucher scheme released

| Dominic Giannini
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Minister Tara Cheyne with lady from the Artists' Shed in Fyshwick

Business Minister Tara Cheyne released the list of the top 100 performing businesses from the ChooseCBR scheme. Photo: Tara Cheyne MLA Facebook.

A list of the top 100 businesses that benefitted from the ChooseCBR voucher scheme has been released by the ACT Government, but the list has raised some questions about how businesses could claim such a large number of vouchers in the 25-hours the scheme ran.

Food retailers were the greatest beneficiaries. Almost 40 per cent of the vouchers were claimed at stores like grocers, while more than one in four were redeemed at cafes, restaurants and takeaway shops.

Daily Market City & Gungahlin topped the list, receiving 3.3 per cent of all vouchers redeemed.

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Business Minister Tara Cheyne defended the scheme, saying the vouchers resulted in more than $5.1 million being spent at businesses across Canberra.

“These numbers show extraordinary demand from consumers and are testament to the enthusiasm of local businesses who embraced the scheme, marketed it, and encouraged old and new customers to come in and spend, and to spend more,” she said.

Ms Cheyne previously said the government would not release the list as she said the information was commercial in confidence.

Leanne Castley

Shadow Business Minister Leanne Castley wants the Auditor-General to review the ChooseCBR scheme. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

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

To redeem 500 vouchers, a business would have had to redeem one voucher every three minutes for the entire 25 hours the scheme ran since it restarted at 7:00 am last Friday (18 June).

With voucher values ranging between $10 and $50, businesses that claimed more than 500 vouchers would have made between $5000 and $25,000 from the vouchers alone.

Shadow Business Minister Leanne Castley has urged a review by the Auditor-General.

“Concerns remain about the speed in which vouchers were redeemed, which is one of the reasons we need an independent review by the Auditor-General,” Ms Castley said.

“The Auditor-General must scrutinise the entire scheme; in particular, transactions that took place over a 25-hour period.”

Neither the Legislative Assembly nor MLAs can instruct the Auditor-General to commence an inquiry, although parties can make a referral.

Ms Cheyne said a comprehensive review is already being conducted. She has written to the Auditor-General advising the office about the scheme’s review and that the findings of the review would be presented to the Auditor-General.

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Earlier this week, Ms Cheyne said she had heard anecdotal evidence that businesses were manually redeeming vouchers late into the night, including vouchers submitted online, which explains why some vouchers were processed between midnight and 6:00 am.

Ms Cheyne said there had been no reports of the scheme being misused but conceded that it might not be possible for the review to determine whether some customers had exploited the scheme by signing up twice.

An analysis of the scheme’s trial found a questionable pattern of inexplicable transactions across three businesses worth $5355.

The government did not seek to recover the money as it would have cost more than the transactions were worth, Ms Cheyne said, although the three businesses were banned from participating in the scheme’s full rollout.

Almost 800 businesses took part in the voucher scheme, 180 of which received less than $50 from the scheme.

One in five Canberra businesses that were eligible under the guidelines participated in the scheme.

The top 100 businesses were:

  1. Daily Market City & Gungahlin
  2. Hualong Supermarket
  3. Chemist Warehouse Belconnen Markets
  4. Deji Asian Supermarket
  5. Oriental Groceries
  6. Panda Fresh Mart
  7. Mega Convenience Store
  8. Mani Asian Supermarket
  9. Wukong Hotpot & Super Emoji
  10. Bestore Asian Supermarket
  11. Sai Gon Asian Grocery
  12. Fresco Seafood
  13. Sycamore Medi Spa
  14. Ebest Canberra
  15. Asian Supa Grocery
  16. Easi Mart Kingston
  17. Z Cosme Store
  18. Yum Cha CBD
  19. Vina Groceries
  20. Ginger and Spice
  21. Chilada & VR Canberra
  22. Emart Asian Supermarket
  23. Desi Bazzar
  24. Tak Kee Roast Inn
  25. The Food Forum
  26. Oscar’s Bakery Cafe
  27. Yesmart
  28. Gungahlin & Jamison Plaza Travel Associates
  29. Raku Dining
  30. Lost River Produce
  31. Gungahlin Lakes Golf Pro Shop
  32. Pandora Belconnen and Pandora Canberra Centre
  33. MK Butcher
  34. Weston Asian Grocery
  35. Nikki Cosmo
  36. Toyworld Fyshwick & Toyworld Belconnen
  37. Super Emoji Citywalk
  38. Dymocks Canberra
  39. Cool Buy
  40. Jimmy’s Place
  41. Hing Shing Butcher
  42. 606 Asian Supermarket
  43. ACT Fruit Veg and Butcher
  44. National Zoo & Aquarium
  45. The Golden Drum
  46. Deakin IGA
  47. Ai Buy Market
  48. UC Supermarket
  49. Dendy Cinemas Canberra Centre
  50. Rashays Belconnen
  51. The Scholar Chinese Seafood Restaurant
  52. Bellchambers Music School
  53. Little Sprout
  54. Chinese Inn Restaurant
  55. Rusden Europro Automotive
  56. Dymocks Belconnen
  57. Tasty Fish Market
  58. Mont Adventure Equipment
  59. Guzman y Gomez Canberra Centre, Belconnen & Gunghalin
  60. Here Collective
  61. Impact Comics
  62. Capital Chemist Dickson
  63. Continental Grocery & Halal Meat
  64. Bidgee Golf Shop
  65. Super Emoji Gungahlin
  66. TG-ONE Groceries Coffee
  67. Ziggys Fresh Belconnen
  68. PappaRich Canberra
  69. Asian Provisions
  70. IGA Drakeford
  71. Fortune Box
  72. Tackle World Canberra
  73. Bread & Butter Café
  74. POP Canberra
  75. Kippax Asian Grocer
  76. Across The Board Cake Decorating Pty Ltd
  77. Pandora Tuggeranong
  78. O2 Hair
  79. Chic Gourmet
  80. Tasting China
  81. Smart Dollar Tuggeranong
  82. Star Buffet
  83. Let’s Be Natural
  84. Pharmacy Select Gungahlin
  85. Latorta
  86. Landspeed Records
  87. Canberra City Gymnastics Club
  88. Daily Market Kambri
  89. Discount Grocery Store Phillip
  90. Sichuan Chinese Restaurant
  91. Pedal Power ACT
  92. artKids Canberra
  93. Crafty Frog
  94. Bellelis
  95. Limelight Cinemas
  96. Capital Chemist Lyneham
  97. Rashays Tuggeranong
  98. Akikambara
  99. Belconnen Chicken
  100. Hey Show Karaoke.

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How to know when a scheme is a ‘scheme’:
Fake businesses get created.
People register repeatedly and stores allowed coupon stacking.
All the money is gone and no one benefitted.

Aaron Gardner9:20 pm 26 Jun 21

Program was a great idea but was so poorly executed.
And will any government actually care? No, it’s all about bragging rights not actually community connection.
Mini grocery stores doing $100k + in trade in less than 48hrs. Dodgy.

If prizes were awarded for rorting the ACT government and ACT taxpayers this would be a list of the top 100 winners. Congratulations guys. Proud of yourselves?
And special mention goes to Hualong Supermarket, a small Chinese grocery shop in Harrrison which came in at 2nd place. How did they do it?

Tara Cheyne went on radio saying how successful the Voucher system was and how it helped businesses in both Kambah and Evatt have their best day of sales for the year.

These Kambah and Evatt businesses mustn’t do too well normally as I can’t see them in the top 100 money makers.

Surely Minister Cheyne wasn’t using these two suburbs to try to divert attention away from all the taxpayers money going to Chemist Warehouse and Asian grocery stores…….

IGA Drakeford in Kambah number 70?

Although agree the attempts to spin this as a successful scheme is beyond a joke. The minister should just put her hand up and and admit it was a mistake and a poorly designed and run scheme.

Hopeless attempt to support the struggling Canberra businesses.

Almost all the money went to food and chemist retailers, exactly the kind of businesses that have boomed since Covid.

Another case of the ACT Government delivering a program that has had the opposite effect than what was promoted.

ChrisinTurner1:08 pm 26 Jun 21

I would have thought that the scheme was to get people spending again on struggling local businesses, not stocking up at supermarkets and discount chemists who are enjoying a boom.

Notice that 7 of the top 10 were Asian food stores. Why? Because their patrons were better at using the voucher scheme, or another reason? I dont know, but it seems strange this cohort should be the main beneficiaries when the intention was fair and equitable access for all Canberra residents and businesses, which clearly did’nt happen in this debacle overseen by the ACT Minister for Business Failures.

When you think about how the scheme was set up, claims made by witnesses during the scheme and how the rules were very open to abuse through multiple accounts, it doesnt seem surprising at all.

Although you’re not really allowed to talk about these things…..

You would be called a racist Chewy. But for sure there is a very interesting pattern to those too beneficiaries.

Has zero to do with race at the end of the day – just a certain segment of the business community that worked out a way to exploit the clear weaknesses in the program for their own maximum benefit. Be very interesting to see the transaction records behind all the transactions though – smells like something very fishy has gone on, and wouldn’t suprise me one iota if there are plenty of transactions in there where through whatever means, no goods or services were actually exchanged.

Haha most going to supermarkets. Why are they on the list? Surely they haven’t been doing it hard?

It’s a shame so much of the funds appear to have been directed towards grocery shopping that would have happened anyway, rather than encouraging discretionary spending.

I did manage to use two vouchers at two different businesses, neither of which appear in this top 100 list.

Hmm, the list would seem to provide additional evidence as to claims made during the scheme about it being specifically exploited.

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