East Coast package welcome, but what about the workers?

The state government’s financial support for East Coast businesses affected by the Tasman Highway closure near Orford fails to recognise individual workers, says Federal Member for Lyons Brian Mitchell MP.

Tasmanian Small Business Minister Jane Howlett yesterday (Tuesday 8 June) unveiled a $1m government assistance package under which businesses who can prove a 30 per cent trade reduction resulting from the closure can apply for grants of between $2500 and $25,000. Mr Mitchell says while support for businesses is welcome, the financial package in its current form is “dangerously limiting”.

“This package fails to address the need for income support to individuals,” Mr Mitchell said.

“What about the casual workers losing shifts in cafes or the commuters who are completely cut off from their workplace?

“Why should they bear the cost of the highway closure?”

Mr Mitchell also noted elderly East Coast residents faced increased travel costs because of the longer route to and from vital medical appointments in Hobart.

Mr Mitchell says compensation for people on limited incomes facing higher costs must be considered.

“The government needs to also recognise the mental and emotional health toll of this closure and I would encourage it to put mobile services into the east coast over the next few weeks,” Mr Mitchell said.

Mr Mitchell also noted the state government’s messy messaging around reopening the Tasman Highway.

“The media is reporting the highway will reopen mid-July but the minister didn’t commit to that, he said it could be longer,” Mr Mitchell said.

"Last week the head of State Roads refused, when questioned on ABC radio, to commit to the highway re-opening even within 12 weeks but at a subsequent briefing the public was told the work was anticipated to take less than three months.

“Some clarity on a re-opening timeline from a senior and credible source would be welcomed."