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.
‘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.’