Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader
Today’s announcement of mental health support for small businesses should be a good news story for the Gutwein Government, but instead it is clouded by questions about the Liberals’ decision to keep the recipients of small business hardship grants secret.
Tasmanians know how hard the past few months have been for small business owners, and there’s no question the pandemic has taken a big mental toll on many. Providing a tailored mental health support program for those business owners who need it is a good idea, and welcomed by the Greens.
However, one can’t help but be curious about the timing of this announcement. Premier Peter Gutwein has used the mental health of small business owners as a political shield for the past week, as he continued to evade questions about which businesses received hardship funds under a $26 million grants program.
It seems rather coincidental that the Liberals are announcing this program now. We hadn’t heard them make a peep about the mental health of small business owners until they were asked to release the list of hardship grant recipients, and now, lo and behold, days later we have an announcement on the very same topic.
If this government had a track record of being open and transparent with the Tasmanian people, it might have been easier to give them the benefit of the doubt on this issue. But, secrecy and cynical politics have been central features of the Liberals in power, and it's hard to believe today’s announcement is anything other than politically motivated.