The squabble over whether or not the state government should release a full list of recipients from its Small Business Hardship Grant program is a tough one.
There is no suggestion the state government has misused taxpayer funds in getting money out to struggling businesses at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, in fact it has been a positive program.
But the government's decision to follow the advice of State Growth secretary Kim Evans to not release the successful applicants due to the "potential to cause undue harm" to already stressed recipients has raised concerns.
Small Business Minister Sarah Courtney refused to disclose the list to parliament's Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday, while Mr Evans said 72 per cent of businesses that applied for grants received them. A high strike rate.
The government has the backing of the tourism and business community, while Labor and some members of the public say there should be full disclosure when it comes to use of the public purse.
Government secrecy is never helped by past failures - think about the federal government's sports rorts scandal - and a lack of trust in government is rightly or wrongly high.
Tasmanians have every right to have the process in which grants are distributed and to who too publicly disclosed and scrutinised.
You can't have business and governments hiding behind the excuse of a pandemic. Where will it end? Full transparency should always be a starting point. Anyone applying for one should expect such disclosure.
It would be a pretty low act from a political party or individual to attack a business owner for receiving a grant without cause. And political point scoring around such an issue should be frowned upon, but Labor's concerns appear to be genuine.
Without proper scrutiny, how will we know how effective the grants have been? We are not through this pandemic and we certainly will not experience the full effects until after Christmas after JobKeeper ends and a cautious tourism season begins.
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