LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin has put forward a request to the NSW Government to include local government in any future economic stimulus package to protect as many indoor and outdoor council jobs as possible.
Ms Saffin also discussed this with Federal MP colleagues to see if there was any support there, such as infrastructure and the Jobkeeper program.
During this time we need as many essential services with boots on the ground as possible. A lot of our council workers do the work that deals with our roads, rubbish (waste) and other related outdoor works.
Ms Saffin earlier this week wrote to NSW Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock and NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, requesting a rescue package and that it include extra funding for shovel-ready community infrastructure projects.
Ms Saffin said she made the representations because the four councils in her electorate — Kyogle, Tenterfield Shire, Lismore City, Tweed Shire — were struggling to maintain staff.
“I know general managers and councillors are pulling out all stops, including consulting staff on leave planning, to try to keep as many staff as possible employed over the coming months,” Ms Saffin said.
“However, these measures might not be enough as more ratepayers find it difficult to pay their rates and water bills, and councils give holidays from fees and charges, and if current Federal and State funding is not significantly increased. Council budgets will come under more stress.
“Local councils often are the largest employer in a regional or provincial setting, so for them to grind to a halt and add hundreds of workers to the jobless queues, would have a long-term detrimental effect on our local economies.”
Ms Saffin has added her voice to NSW Labor Opposition representations for the NSW Government to financially boost local councils’ ability to deliver service provision, community programs and infrastructure projects.
Shadow Local Government Minister Greg Warren said investment through local government would not only create legacy community infrastructure, but also sustain local services, employment and drive local economies.
“We want to see sensible measures that encourage local governments to start projects and keep jobs,” Mr Warren said.