The Local Government Association or Queensland has urged the State Government to reimburse councils for the cost of managing border closures following today’s decision to reinstate a hard border closure with NSW to protect the state from the escalating COVID-19 outbreaks interstate.
Acting Premier Steven Miles today announced the Queensland border would close to all NSW residents from 1am tomorrow. This follows the declaration of Victoria and South Australia as hotspots.
LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam said local government recognised the need to implement border closures to mitigate the health risks during the pandemic.
“The border councils involved have stepped up without question to help the State maintain those strong border controls,” he said.
“However, the ongoing costs of implementing these arrangements are becoming a real financial burden on some of our rural and remote councils.”
Councils most impacted included Paroo, Balonne, Southern Downs and Bulloo shire councils as well as Goondiwindi Regional Council.
Costs incurred by councils because of the border closure include providing support to the Queensland Police Service through the supply of generators, accommodation and other critical supplies.
Mr Hallam said costs already borne by some of these councils from previous border closures represented about 15% of their annual general rates income.
“Asking border councils to simply accept 15% of their rates revenue being redirected to border closure costs ultimately means their communities miss out on core council services being delivered for their communities,” he said.
Mr Hallam said the State Government needed to acknowledge the financial strain on councils of reoccurring border closures and provide support funding for the affected councils.
“We need the Government to help our councils with the retrospective reimbursement of their border closure costs, as well as a promise of financial support for any future closures,” he said.
For more information, please contact:
Sarah Vogler, Media Executive
Local Government Association of Queensland