The Tasmanian Government welcomes the release of the Auditor-General’s Small Business Hardship Grant Program Performance Audit, which vindicates our fast action to deliver support to Tasmanian businesses experiencing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Auditor-General found “the application process was appropriately designed with risks generally identified and managed, applications were broadly assessed consistently and payments made to small businesses were for the most part equitable and timely.”
Further it outlines that “analysis of both successful and declined applications showed no bias in terms of geographical location of the businesses within Tasmania. Similarly there was no evidence that any industry types of businesses were more favoured than others.”
As we’ve placed firmly on the public record previously, the process was delivered by the Department of State Growth at arms’ length from Government during extraordinary circumstances, with the aim of getting support to businesses as quickly as possible.
This Report confirms the Government’s fast action to deliver support for Tasmanian businesses when it was needed most, and provides another assurance for the Tasmanian community that the program was managed appropriately and funds were fairly distributed.
The Tasmanian Government, through the Department of State Growth will now consider and work through the Audit’s recommendations in more detail. However in the meantime, and noting the Audit’s comment with respect to dentists, the Secretary of the Department of State Growth is in the process of reviewing the applications from dental business applicants to ensure equity of assessment.
We are proud that our $80 million small business support grant programs have provided more than 20,000 grants to more than 14,000 individual Tasmanian small businesses across the State, including in industries from retail to accommodation, hospitality, construction, fishing, cultural and recreational services.
We welcome the assessment of the Auditor General as an additional layer of scrutiny, as well as that undertaken by the Public Accounts Committee.
We will continue to work closely with local businesses and industry as we rebuild our economy.