News, media releases

Labor calls for full review of small business grants process

  • Full and proper review needed to fix flawed grants program
  • Inequitable process leaves numerous businesses without support
  • All businesses facing hardship deserve support

Tasmanian Labor is calling for a full and proper review of the government’s Small Business Emergency Support and Hardship grants program.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said confirmation that numerous businesses were wrongly denied funding under the grants program shows nothing short of a full inquiry is good enough.

“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 ever since then, Labor has heard from numerous businesses that missed out or received smaller grants than their competitors, with little or no explanation.

“Meanwhile, the exclusive, members-only Athanaeum Club, which counts senior Liberal employees as its members, has boasted of receiving support from the government.

“The Premier announced on 30 April that an extra $10 million would go to the $20 million program to meet the high level of need from small business, and yet the media release issued yesterday by the Minister revealed a total allocation of only $26 million.

“And, Mr Gutwein only committed to review those individual cases that missed out after Labor raised them repeatedly in Parliament, with 17 refusals already overturned and another 56 under consideration.

“That’s one in five local small businesses that have been proven to have unfairly missed out on crucial support.

“With such a high rate of mistaken decisions, nothing less than a full review is acceptable to resolve the flaws and inequities in this process.

“Relying on people to come forward rather than reviewing all applications is not a substitute for a full review and continuing with this piecemeal approach risks further inequities.

Labor’s COVID-19 Recovery Package, which is designed to get Tasmanians back into jobs, help those hardest hit by the pandemic and create a better and fairer economy and society, recommends a full review of the grants, as well as reopening the scheme to those businesses that missed out.

“Labor has always supported these grants programs, but our small businesses and the workers who rely on them for jobs deserve a fair and equitable scheme. I again urge the government to fix this process and help all local businesses in need of support.”

Rebecca White MP
Labor Leader