2020 Rockynats. Mayor Margaret Strelow.
2020 Rockynats. Mayor Margaret Strelow.

Chamber of Commerce puts pressure on councils, but for what?

Economic relief from council could be on the cards for Rockhampton residents and businesses but exactly when and what it will look like remains unclear.

Capricornia Chamber of Commerce president Phil Henry called for immediate council action from both Rockhampton and Livingstone to ease the impact of COVID-19 on businesses.

“The impact of the coronavirus is far-reaching and affecting businesses differently. The outlook at the moment is very uncertain but the economic effects look to be severe,” Mr Henry said.

“While we welcome and are glad there are programs and packages of support from the Federal and State Governments, we also need to see our councils showing their commitment to support our vital small businesses.

“Stopping all fees, levies, permit charges now, will free up a substantial amount of cash flow for businesses now—money they can use to keep their staff employed.”

Brisbane City Council told The Courier Mail yesterday that it would be waiving some of its fees, levies, and permit fees but Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow was quick to respond, saying many of those were not charged in RRC anyway.

“The capital city and regional cities are in vastly different positions. We don’t charge in the first place for 17 of the 18 things that Brisbane is ‘waiving the fees’ for,” she explained.

“The only one that we do have a fee attached is the food act fees which they have waived or refunded for three months.

“Ours are an annual fee- and comes in at between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of Brisbane’s annual fees.

“Because our fees for restaurants are so modest, we don’t send quarterly bills anyway.”

As for the question of future relief or stimulus, Mayor Strelow said works were underway on a package which could only be delivered by the newly elected council.

“At councils special meeting on Monday, we flagged ahead that the new council needs to consider what it can do in terms of economic stimulus,” she said.

“We’re in caretaker mode so we’re not able to make decisions that commit a new council.

“Separately the CEO has some capacity under hardship arrangements to make exceptions.”

Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig
Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig

Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig wanted to see more information regarding exactly what action the CCC were seeking, offering it the opportunity to present a case at an emergency meeting.

He too said much of the action taken by BCC was not applicable to LCS.

“As Mayor I would be more than happy to convene a ‘special meeting’ of council to receive a presentation from the chamber and/or other representative industry bodies so that council can assess our capability to respond to specific requests such as waiving fees and charges where possible,” Cr Ludwig said.

“It may be council could also assist and support those representative groups in putting forward ‘region specific’ measures which the Federal and State Governments should be considering.

“Local businesses are certainly best placed to understand how stimulus packages could be targeted to get the maximum outcomes that we need to keep small to medium business operational and viable.”



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