After strong advocacy on behalf of small businesses in Tasmania, Labor welcomes the Premier’s commitment to review unsuccessful applications to the government’s Small Business Emergency Support and Hardship grant programs.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said Labor has been inundated by complaints from businesses that have failed to receive support despite suffering the impact of COVID-19 restrictions.
“When Peter Gutwein first announced the grants program in March, he said grants would be available to all small businesses suffering financial hardship as a result of COVID-19,” Ms White said.
“But numerous businesses have contacted Labor describing a shambolic process, which has added stress at a time when they were already facing pain and uncertainty and has resulted in some businesses missing out on crucial support, without which some may not survive.
“Tourism and hospitality have been among the industries hardest hit, with thousands of jobs on the line. But a number of businesses in the sector have told us they’ve been treated unfairly and inequitably.
“Puddleduck Vineyard – a business in the Coal River Valley that relies heavily on tourism – applied for the grant but received no support.
“In another case, Huon Valley Escapes spent $1,500 preparing an application but, despite demonstrating significant hardship, the business was knocked back for a $15,000 grant, instead receiving the lesser amount of $4,000.
“Then there is Lift Up Coffee Bar in Scottsdale, which applied for a $15,000 grant, followed up with Business Tasmania and was told the application had been received and the result would be advised the next week.
“That same day, it was announced that the grant program had closed and the owner was later advised that the café had received the lesser amount of $4,000.
Ms White said some businesses have been forced to compete with each other against invisible selection criteria for support.
“Some businesses like Eight Oh Eight – an events business in Launceston that has been unable to trade – received nothing, while other businesses that have continued to operate have received $15,000 payments.
“Margate Country Kennels also missed out on $15,000, despite applying within hours of the funding announcement, waiting weeks for a response and seeing other kennels receive that full amount. They were eventually advised that they may be eligible for the lesser amount of $4,000.
“Labor has been fighting on behalf of these businesses to have this inequitable scheme reviewed.
“We welcome the Premier’s commitment in parliament this morning to review these unsuccessful applications and, if necessary, to extend the grants scheme.
“Labor has always supported these programs but the allocation of funds must be fair and equitable. It is pleasing that after Labor’s strong advocacy, the Premier has listened to our concerns and the concerns of these businesses, which have already suffered so much.”
Rebecca White MP