UPDATE: Pitt says everyone must contribute to corona response
UPDATE: Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt says councils have differing financial capacities to deal with the economic fallout of coronavirus.
Mr Pitt was speaking after LGAQ CEO Geoff Hallam responded to his call earlier today for councils in Bundaberg and the Fraser Coast to axe rates for six months.
“Everyone has to contribute and each council has a different financial capacity to contribute,” Mr Pitt said.
“We are working with all levels of government to ensure that we address the health challenges and the economic challenges.” he said.
“Whether you are a business or have a household there are costs that need to be met including rent, rates, utilities, such as water and electricity, and debt.
“Local government has a significant role to play and we must all do our part.”
EARLIER: Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam says all levels of government needed to work together right now.
Mr Hallam was responding to Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt’s call for Bundaberg and Fraser Coast regional councils to abolish rates for six months as part of stimulus in response to coronavirus.
“Councils across Queensland are doing what they can to support their communities throughout this crisis,” Mr Hallam said.
“Councils raise three per cent of all taxes whereas the Federal Government raises 83 per cent,” he said.
“The nation’s councils have asked the Commonwealth to immediately inject an additional $2 billion in well-targeted economic stimulus into communities across the country by lifting its Financial Assistance Grants funding or boosting other critical programs like Roads to Recovery.
“This will allow local governments to immediately roll out job-creating projects and offer economic stimulus to their local businesses while ensuring continuity of essential services as they manage the impact on their own workforce.
“We call on Mr Pitt to advocate for this request with his Cabinet colleagues on our behalf.”
EARLIER: Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt has called on the Bundaberg and Fraser Coast regional councils to eliminate rates for six months in response to coronavirus.
“I congratulate the measures that have been introduced so far, however every level of government needs to play its part,” Mr Pitt said.
“The Federal Government has introduced a range of support including cash flow for businesses, assistance for individuals who are now unemployed and stimulus payments,” he said.
“The best thing our two local councils can do to help residents and businesses is to freeze rates and not issue further rates notices this year.
Mr Pitt, who is the minister for resources, water and Northern Australia, said the Fraser Coast council had extended the due date for current rate notices.
“I note that it has asked the CEO to report back with further rates concession option for the next financial year, and update Council’s financial hardship policy,” he said.
“Bundaberg Regional Council has introduced a moratorium on interest for outstanding rates and charges until June.
“This is an unprecedented situation and people need as much help as possible and this is one way our local councils can help both individuals and business.”
A Bundaberg Regional Council spokeswoman said that, as the council was in caretaker mode, Mr Pitt’s suggestion was something the new council would have to consider.