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Support for Tasmanian Businesses and Workers

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Tags: Refugees, COVID-19

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to recognise at the outset of this motion today that we are debating, the sadness, suffering and loss that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to many Australians, Tasmanians among them. We have all known people, if not ourselves, who have lost their incomes and whole livelihoods. We have all known people, if it has not happened to us, who have lost people they deeply love from COVID-19 or have been unable to attend funerals and special moments with people before they have died because of border restrictions. We have all known people who are living with intolerable mental and emotional stress.

That is not just because of the concern about COVID-19 and the restrictions required to keep us as safe as we can be, but the reality of the other circumstances we are living in. The housing crisis is a cruel combination that too many Tasmanians are experiencing at the same time as they are struggling with a lack of people coming into the state to provide the revenue that their micro and small businesses need to stay afloat.

We are truly in a hard place and it is good to see people working together as much as people are on this matter. It is really small bickies and the least he can do that the Acting Premier, Mr Rockliff, has made that plea to the Prime Minister, to the Federal Liberal Government, to put some money into supporting people who have lost their businesses because of COVID-19 restrictions. It is the approach of this Liberal federal government that puts people on the scrap heap above the interests first and foremost of large corporations and industries. It is appalling and a disgrace that the Prime Minister has not re-extended JobKeeper to states suffering from COVID-19 lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions that are having a massive impact on people's businesses and their livelihoods.

Tasmania is blessed to not be in the situation where we need the restrictions that Victoria and New South Wales have to protect their populations against the Delta variant of COVID 19. Clearly, the evidence is everywhere and all of us in this place are hearing stories from people in the community who have either lost their business or lost their job because their employer has had to close their business. It pains me to open the Mercury newspaper every day to see another story of people, many of whom I know: Doug and Kartika, who have been running the Duke Hotel for years and doing such an incredible job; the wonderful woman today whose has a gallery in Salamanca - these are just a couple of so many people who are really suffering.

We have in Tasmania an opportunity to do more. Yes, the Acting Premier should be on the phone, but he should be publicly calling out the Liberal Party and the approach they have of not stepping in to support people. We saw how well it worked, we know how well it works. Australia practised it under a Labor government in 2008, we practised it again in 2020 under a Liberal government. It makes a difference when injections of public funding go into supporting people and their livelihoods so that they are able to continue with paying their mortgage, with buying the food that they need to put on the table for their children, the school fees and, most importantly, keeping their business afloat so that it will be there as we ride through this.

When we are talking about Australia having vaccination rates of 70 per cent to 80 per cent, hopefully having those rates by the end of the year, would not a caring, smart, intelligent, future-thinking federal government want to put that small investment into communities and to individual businesses all across the country, many of whom will fall off a cliff between now and then because there is no federal government support.

The Greens expect to hear a lot more from this Liberal Acting Premier about the fact that the federal government is failing terribly. It is great to hear that the Acting Premier has listened to what the Greens and the Labor Party have been saying for weeks now, that the microbusiness support was a disgrace and was not available for people under $50 000. It appears from the question today, that it is available to people who have incomes of $25 000, but $5000 is not going to go very far. It cannot go very far. We have been contacted by someone that $5000 will not pay the mortgage past a fortnight and all the other bills that this person has to pay with their business, so it is not enough.

We need a government that is future-focused. We have a youth unemployment rate in Tasmania of 9.2 per cent and a total unemployment rate of 4.5 per cent. Why has the Government not taken up the excellent Greens policy we took to the election, and will be hearing more about in our alternative Budget, for a job guarantee? Why are we not making a commitment to provide every young person with a job in Tasmania? We know that it pays dividends. The evidence is there from around the country.

Why are we not accepting Afghan refugees? They have been such a wonderful addition -

Time expired.