"Calls for more road closure support" - The Mercury

FEDERAL Labor MP Brian Mitchell says more support is needed on the East Coast while a section of the Tasman Highway is closed while dangerous rocks are felled.

His comments came after the state government announced it would provide a financial assistance package to businesses feeling the pinch as a result of the road closure.

“There doesn’t seem to be anything about income support for residents affected. People are losing shifts, particularly hospitality workers,” Mr Mitchell said.

He said a program similar to JobKeeper should be used.

“If we’re talking about it being closed for weeks, that’s a long time to go with less income,” Mr Mitchell said.

Details on how much businesses will receive and when the assistance will be accessible are still being ironed out.

Infrastructure Minister Michael Ferguson said those details will be revealed this week.

Mr Mitchell said the government should have provided support sooner.

“To come out with a bland statement of 'register your details' isn’t good enough. If you believe the government, they only had 48 hours’ notice, it’s now been eight days since then.”

As some East Coast businesses continue to struggle as a result of the closure of the highway, just south of Orford, others have been able to adapt.

Electrician Ben Jones lives in Triabunna but is temporarily staying in Hobart to avoid the drive.

“I used to travel from Triabunna, some jobs were at Oatlands or Buckland or Ham- ilton, now getting to Buckland would take me more than two hours,” he said.

“I’ve got clients all through the Derwent Valley – I’d just get cut off from them.”