The residents of East Coast Tasmania have been severely impacted by the ongoing closure of the Tasman Highway, which is now in its third week. Last Friday, I drove from the airport to Orford and Triabunna to visit residents and businesses who are feeling the pinch. Trade is down 50 to 75 per cent across the board because of restricted travel. On Sunday, I was out at Swansea, which is a bit further up the East Coast, seeing the impact first-hand. Business owners there told me trade was down again between 20 and 50 per cent. Every single business owner I spoke to said they had put off staff or they had reduced shifts.
It is a tough time for the people of the East Coast but the relief is not there. While the liberal state government finally responded to my calls for financial aid, they have not extended a business support package to workers. Workers have been left behind. The people who have lost shifts and lost wages have been left behind and that is not good enough. Workers who are losing shifts and losing pay need support to get them through the next few weeks. They can't wait. They need the support now.
I am pleased to see the state government has announced its intent to seal Wielangta Road, something I called for in February last year, which the government at the time said didn't need to happen. But we need to see the details. They can't sit on their hands and say they've announced it and not deliver it. We've seen far too much of that from this government; let's not see the infection spread to the state government of Tasmania.