The creation of a “green army” and a local government trainee program for displaced workers are contained in a $608 million battle plan presented to the Queensland government by the state’s councils.
Local governments across the nation are turning to the state after being cold-shouldered by the Commonwealth, which has excluded councils from many of its support and stimulus packages.
Local Government Association of Queensland President Mark Jamieson says the Battleplan for Queensland Local Communities will create more than 14,000 jobs across the state and help it bounce back from economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan includes a $200 million job creation program modelled on the Works for Queensland initiative, which it says will support more than 8,000 jobs, with half of the investment focused on the state’s southeast.
It also includes a Local Government Apprenticeship and Traineeship program for 800 new or displaced workers and the creation of 3,000-strong green army.
“Funding this package will enable local governments to kickstart hundreds of community-building programs to create jobs and provide essential local economic stimulus in our communities,” Cr Jamieson said.
“Councils are playing an important role in the local disaster responses and at the same time, they are working hard to sustain their 40,000-strong local government workforce – all critical to supporting local economies and communities.”
Cr Jameison says councils are calling on the state to fill the gap left by the federal government, which has attracted widespread criticism for leaving local government out of its JobKeeper program.
“We believe there is a crucial role councils can play in supporting a community-led recovery. Councils can ensure economic stimulus gets to where it is most needed to enable us to get through this crisis and come through the other side, stronger than before,” he said.
“We are putting on the table real options that can be implemented straight away. We must look ahead to the next phase in this crisis, but we cannot do it alone.
“By working together, the State and councils can ensure Queenslanders weather this COVID-19 storm and emerge from it in the strongest position possible.”
Newcastle launches City Taskforce
In NSW, a taskforce of 17 CEOs and city leaders met last Friday via video link to develop a blueprint for Newcastle’s recovery.
The City Taskforce, chaired by Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and funded to the tune of $500,000 by Council, comprises representative from business, industry, education, finance, tourism, charities, the arts and government.
Cr Nelmes says the Taskforce will coordinate a strategic approach to recovery.
“This is an historic moment in the City’s response to this global crisis, as we work to maximise the capacity and speed of our recovery,” she said. “Never before has our city seen such an unprecedented level of collaboration amongst its leaders.
The Taskforce will liaise with lead agencies Hunter New England Health for Public Health updates; Regional NSW on government responses; and the Hunter Research Foundation Centre around economic impacts.
It will meet every two weeks until the end of the year.
While the Taskforce has been established as a Newcastle-centric initiative, its benefits will be felt well beyond LGA boundaries, Cr Nelmes says.
Local resilience package
Meanwhile, in NSW Liverpool City Council is among several councils to unveil a resilience package containing 20 measures to support businesses and the local community.
“We have entered unprecedented times and Liverpool City Council will continue to do all that it can to support those doing it tough,” Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller says.
Measures include rate deferments, parking officer discretion, a grants program for business, suspension of health inspection fees, free rent for council owned properties, free parking for essential workers and local business.
“We will also seek funding from the NSW government for a package of shovel-ready capital works projects which will support the arts and cultural sector, improve community services and public amenity through much-needed infrastructure,” Cr Waller said.
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