Rates relief won the hard way
GETTING rates relief for people who lost their homes in the Cobraball bushfires should have been easy, but it proved anything but yesterday.
On paper, it looked simple.
Mayor Bill Ludwig sought councillor support for Livingstone Shire to ask the Queensland Government to cover the cost of six months’ council rates for those affected.
In the event that such a request was denied by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, the mayor wanted councillors to sign off on a guarantee that Livingstone would grant hardship concession to the owners of the 15 properties which were destroyed, meaning they wouldn’t have to pay rates and charges for the first six months of this year.
But what unfolded at yesterday’s council meeting, namely about 44 minutes of debate on the issue, left the mayor shaking his head in disbelief at roughly the 45-minute mark.
“I’m so embarrassed to hear three councillors want to play political games,” Cr Ludwig said.
Cr Glenda Mather took exception to that comment and called a point of order saying: “If anybody’s grandstanding it’s you!”
Cr Ludwig replied “councillor, will you sit down please” before continuing.
“I am genuinely embarrassed,” Cr Ludwig said.
“I think Cr (Tom) Wyatt hit it on the head.
“Our community every day of the week will be supporting this.
“To say that we need to embarrass the State Government into action - I think we show leadership by taking the role and say ‘we’re prepared to do this’.
“I did put it (council guarantee) there as a fallback position.
“We shouldn’t have had the talkfest (on it), we should have just said this should be a no-brainer to go through (get approved).”
Crs Glenda Mather, Adam Belot and Pat Eastwood had earlier expressed their dislike for the council “fallback position” and just wanted to ask the State Government to fund it.
“Let’s not back them up, let’s not underpin them,” Cr Belot said.
“No, the responsibility lays with the State Government to do this.”
Cr Mather agreed.
“Unlike council, state and federal governments have unlimited resources,” she said.
“Our resources are limited.
“I would love to have enough money to give everybody something.
“The State Government has a lot more money than us.”
Cr Eastwood said the fallback position was a “get out of jail free card for the State Government.”
“I believe that the State Government should stand up, pay the rates,” he said.
“And if they don’t, this can come before the (council) table within a month when the new council is able to make a decision.”
After all of the debate, councillors eventually agreed to ask the Queensland Government to pay the rates ($24,761 total) and Crs Ludwig, Nigel Hutton, Tom Wyatt and Jan Kelly had the numbers to get the fallback council guarantee over the line.