COVID-19: Council calls special meeting as election looms
A SPECIAL meeting will be held tomorrow as the Gladstone Regional Council investigates a COVID-19 support package for residents, businesses and community organisations.
The meeting comes less than a week before local government elections and the council is officially in caretaker mode.
Major policy decisions are generally not made during this period, but Gladstone Region mayor Matt Burnett has contacted Queensland Minister for Local Government Stirling Hinchliffe to advise of the meeting and check whether proposed measures require ministerial approval.
GRC general manager of finance, governance and risk Mark Holmes has also advised proposed measures would not constitute a major policy decision as defined in the Local Government Act.
Several options are on the table, including rent relief for council owned and leased facilities, a six-month extension of food and trade waste licences, freezing interest on outstanding rates and charges and a financial support package for sporting and community organisations.
Speaking about the impact on the budget, Cr Burnett said there was a fund to support community and sporting groups to hold events that could be redirected.
It is understood some councillors may dial into the meeting and there will be measures in place to ensure social distancing requirements are adhered to.
Cr Burnett will also hold a mayoral round table this morning to gauge the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local community and how government support measures have been received to date.
Representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, Discovery Coast Tourism and Commerce, the Engineering Alliance, the Port Authority and the hospitality, accommodation, education and social services sectors are expected to attend either in person or via teleconference.
Cr Burnett said the Federal Government's first stimulus package announced earlier this month wasn't working for people including sole traders and casual workers, but applauded the second-round worth $66.1 billion announced yesterday.
"I think what the Prime Minister and Josh Frydenberg announced is perfect," he said.
The new support measures are designed to keep businesses afloat and provide a safety net for workers. Small and medium businesses and not-for-profits with employees will be eligible for payments of between $20,000 and $100,000 to support cash flow, pay utilities and retain staff.
Those on income support including jobseeker payments and youth allowance will receive an extra $550 per fortnight for six months.
People will also be able to access up to $10,000 from their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.
Cr Burnett said hospitality workers and business owners will be some of the hardest hit, and said proposed licensing measures was one way to provide support on a local level.