Gutwein can’t hide from business grant scrutiny

Tasmanian Labor
  • Government
    refuses to disclose which businesses received grants
  • Premier must
    disclose where millions in taxpayer funds spent
  • Extraordinary
    example of government’s lack of transparency
  • Peter Gutwein must give the Tasmanian public
    details of which businesses received grants as part of the $26 million Small
    Business Hardship scheme.

    Shadow Treasurer David O’Byrne said the Premier
    cannot hide from scrutiny on the expenditure of millions of dollars in taxpayer
    funds.

    The Premier himself told Parliament that ‘because the Public Accounts Committee follows the government dollar, it can inquire into just about anything, in fact, everything’ related to the government’s response to COVID-19,” Mr O’Byrne said.

    “And yet, Sarah Courtney has refused to provide the
    most basic information about the $26 million of government expenditure on
    business hardship grants.

    “Labor understands the hardship experienced by the
    business community and notes the concerns some have expressed about disclosing
    details. But nobody is going to judge businesses for seeking help while they
    are struggling during a global pandemic.

    “The grant application documents make it very clear
    that there is an expectation of accountability for how public money is spent,
    and applicants were made aware that the information may be made public.

    “This is an extraordinary example of the
    government’s lack of transparency and the Premier cannot use COVID-19 as an excuse
    for its decision to keep these details secret.

    “Labor believes there were legitimate issues with the administration of the Small Business Hardship scheme and we will seek answers through the inquiry process.

    “But the fact that the government cannot even provide the most basic of details about the scheme is more than disappointing – it is shameful. The public has a right to know where its money is being directed.”

    David O’Byrne

    Shadow Treasurer

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