Transcript - ABC Hobart - Mornings with Leon Compton


SUBJECTS: Tasman Highway closures, East Coast Tasmania, business subsidies.

PIIA WIRSU, HOST: Brian Mitchell, MP for Labor, wants to chat about JobKeeper for the East Coast. Welcome to the program. What have you got to add?

BRIAN MITCHELL, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LYONS: Good morning, Piia. I proposed this yesterday afternoon for a JobKeeper-style payment for the East Coast. I’ve been writing to Premier [Peter] Gutwein today about this. There’s no reason why the Gutwein Government shouldn’t implement one. We’re talking about a very severe drop in trade for businesses along the East Coast – Orford, Triabunna, even to Swansea and even places like Buckland are affected.

WIRSU: Logistically, how does that happen though? Because when JobKeeper was put in place it took quite a while to iron out the kinks and it was based on previous revenues, so there’s going to have to be a period of reportable time where people’s revenue has dropped. Logistically, how does that work?

MITCHELL: Look, it wouldn’t have to be as complex as that. Basically what should happen here is any businesses who think they’ve had a drop in trade should be able to apply to the [state] government and say “we are a business with X number of employees, we anticipate having a drop of however many per cent over the next period and we would like the wages of our employees paid over that period. Now, what the government once the road’s open and once everything’s back to normal is assess the claim the business makes against the actual income it made to see whether any repayments have to be made.

WIRSU: So, then business would actually have to repay?

MITCHELL: Piia, the most critical thing here is keeping these businesses afloat and keeping people attached to their places of work. They are facing a severe drop in trade. We’re looking at perhaps even a 95 per cent drop in trade at the Buckland Road House and the Buckland pub because traffic has absolutely stopped and –

WIRSU: (interrupting) – I’m wondering what impact it might have though on businesses on needing to repay payments later on if the government decides they weren’t actually eligible because that in itself would put a significant strain, you would think, on businesses.

MITCHELL: Well, Piia, I think you’re putting the cart before the horse. The fact is you’d only have to repay if your drop in trade wasn’t what you’d said it would be. What I’m hearing from businesses, and I’ve spoken to a number over the past few days, is they’re already facing a severe drop in trade. Now, if they think their businesses won’t be affected to that extent, then they wouldn’t have to make the claim. But the fact is a JobKeeper-style payment will keep businesses afloat [and] keep people employed. We are facing – on the East Coast with Orford and Triabunna especially – businesses going broke because of this. We’re talking about that road being closed for weeks. It is the key arterial road to the East Coast and when you block an artery, you die.

WIRSU: Brian Mitchell, appreciate you joining the program with your thoughts this morning.

MITCHELL: Thanks, Piia.