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Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

Now is the time for Councils to step up says Greens MP Tamara Smith

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Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith. Photo Tree Faerie.

Local Greens member for Ballina Tamara Smith has called on all councils in the Northern Rivers to do more to help local businesses and residents survive the economic and unemployment crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms Smith has called on local councils to be proactive in supporting businesses and rate payers who have been impacted directly.

‘I know that all of our hard working Councils are doing everything they can to support the public health safety of our communities by getting information and advice to people, supporting our frontline emergency service workers and ensuring the safety and well-being of thousands of council staff,’ said Ms Smith.

‘But councils need to be proactive about the role they can play in supporting businesses and rate payers who have been decimated this week by forced business closures and the complete crisis of the economy. 

Defer rates

‘Councils should consider deferring commercial and residential rates for any business that has been affected by the shutdowns and for any resident or ratepayer who has lost their job or been stood down.’

The Greens were key to ensuring that the government moved to protect renters during the pandemic says Ms Smith.

‘We are lobbying both State and Federal governments to support renters to keep their homes in the face of unemployment and business shutdowns. We are also calling for a guarantee of 80 percent t of people’s wages,’ she continued.  

‘But our local businesses and households who have lost work and will struggle to pay Council rates need help right now and local government have a role to play in stimulating our local economy.

‘Our Councils are well placed to make a huge difference in the short term to our businesses and rate payers who have been severely impacted,’ said Ms Smith.

‘Councils currently have hardship provisions in place, but a lot of red tape is involved. They need to expand and streamline capacity for rate payers who have been affected by business closures and/or job loss to seek a deferral.

‘Our Councils are moving quickly to protect public safety and some are looking at ways to support businesses and the unemployed. I urge them to look at rates specifically as a way to help stimulate our local economies.’ 

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  1. Absolutely, as the Gladstone Council announced a support package for their community today, we should be seeing the same from councils all over Australia.

  2. It’s gonna end up with people not allowed to leave shire areas…if it goes on…councils need to start planning for this worst case scenario..we have people camping on our road, crowding out the truck stop at Yelgun, mainly homeless, backpackers and grey nomads..backpackers cramming into an old train carriage on Billinudgel Rd.,, also, in the old tunnel..
    these people need to be housed

  3. Yep I’d say this is old news it’s a definite. What I’d like to see are vegetable seeds and basic farming tools issued out with a Direction pamphlet as well to help guide people to grow their own vegetables for a start at least what happens if this goes on for the next 2 years would government be able to support everybody for that long I think everybody needs to get self sufficient as soon as possible not only for this virus but for the future as well the crime rate will go through the roof once the poor people have no food or when food supplies pull up.
    Not only do you have the disease that’s going to cause damage there’s the paranoia and the panic and it will hit harder as the disease get stronger councils around Australia need to look at it as if everything is going to shut down so we need to be very self-sufficient every Council and sorry to the vegetarians out there but we need to throw some chooks and rabbits in there as well if possible this will cut a lot of the worry out of the people when they know they are not relying so much on uncertain hellp

  4. Councils/ratepayers have been supporting the tourist industry forever. There’s only so much 15,000 ratepayers can afford do.

    Sounds like businesses in Byron, especially backpackers and Airbnb etc, are doing well as the town is still crowded and people are coming here by the busload and ignoring requests not to undertake unnecessary travel, to self isolate to keep themselves and locals safe from a dangerous disease. They are being encouraged to do so by Airbnb and Stayz etc.

    Are those making money out of all this the businesses Ms Smith is referring to? Because most long suffering locals/ratepayers, whose needs Ms Smith is supposed to represent, can’t wait for them to go broke.

    The sooner people are stopped from travelling to the region and potentially bringing a nasty disease with them, the sooner this crisis will end.

    Can Ms Smith tell us if we have enough ICU beds to cope with a massive outbreak of Corvid 19 in our community? If not, what is being done to ensure we do?

    It would be more helpful to all locals if Ms Smith called on the state government to ban all unnecessary travel to the region before we have a disaster on our hands which our health system cannot cope with.


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