Councils urged to defer rates to ease financial strain
BALLINA MP Tamara Smith has urged Northern Rivers councils to do more to help local businesses and residents survive the economic and unemployment crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Greens NSW North Coast spokeswoman said councils should defer 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.
“I know our hardworking 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 wellbeing of thousands of council staff,” Ms Smith said.
“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.
“The Greens have ensured that the government can move to protect renters during this health and economic crisis and 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 per cent of people’s wages.”
She said the 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,” she said.
“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.”