Queensland councils will now look to work with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to help protect their 40,000-strong workforce following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to exclude local government from the Commonwealth’s JobKeeper program.
Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam said the state’s 77 councils had been working to support the COVID-19 public health shut down since it was declared by the National Cabinet, including helping vulnerable households and business while also continuing to deliver essential services like rubbish collection, water, and sewerage.
“Local governments are doing what they can to avoid mass redundancies including redeploying staff where possible while at the same time also trying to provide relief and support measures to their communities and local businesses like rate relief and the waiving of certain fees and charges.
“For example, there are 1700 librarians across Queensland who councils are desperately seeking to redeploy or support during these challenging times.
“Councils estimate the revenue impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national shutdown will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Without access to Job Keeper funding, the task of supporting communities while also sustaining jobs becomes much more difficult.
“The knock-on effect to the local community and economy becomes even more worrying the more rural and remote a council is as many are their area’s main employer.
“These rural and remote councils – which have already been hit hard by drought and other natural disasters - are also critical to local supply chains that support nationally significant sectors like agriculture and resources.
Mr Hallam said the decision to exclude councils from the JobKeeper program would further increase the pressure on an already underfunded level of government only able to raise three percent of all government revenue.
“The State Government, on the other hand, earns 14 percent of total taxation revenue. The Commonwealth collects the remaining 83 percent.
“Councils need their support to not only sustain jobs but to ensure further jobs can be created when the time comes to inject further stimulus into local economies to help Queensland recover from the pandemic.
“We know Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk understands the value of our local government sector through successful job-creation programs such as Works for Queensland.
“We will certainly be calling on Ms Palaszczuk to work with us on ways the State will be stepping in to fill this gap to ensure local government jobs are safe and local economies are supported through these challenging times.”
For more information, please contact:
Sarah Vogler, Media Executive
Local Government Association of Queensland