Call for clarity on JobKeeper package
MAYORS are calling for clarity on whether council employees will have access to the Federal Government's $1500 fortnightly JobKeeper Allowance.
Council revenues are drying up after community restrictions were implemented by Government to control the spread of coronavirus.
Many councils have been forced to close their facilities and businesses and have attempted to alleviate pressure on local businesses and organisations by providing rates relief and rent freezes on council facilities.
Hobart's Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds said she wants councils and council employees to be included in the $130 billion national wage subsidy, but fears they won't be.
The package is designed to keep employees connected to their workplace if the business has to close temporarily.
Cr Reynolds said even if council employees are included in the package, it may be difficult to prove a 30 per cent loss in revenue to be eligible for the payments.
City of Hobart Council employs 650 local workers across the organisation and its businesses.
"We are seeking clarification from the Federal Government via our peak body, the Australian Local Government Association," Cr Reynolds said.
"When I spoke to them [on Monday] night they were pretty unclear and I've got to say everyone just feels a little bit out of the loop."
The JobKeeker Allowance still has to pass Federal Parliament next week.
"It's really important for local government to get some sense about whether we can apply for it and if the rules don't currently extend to local government, that we really appeal to our federal representatives to push for an amendment so that we can apply for it."
Australian Services Union organiser and campaigns co-ordinator Samantha Batchelor said the union welcomed the JobKeeper payment, but there were serious issues that needed to be addressed regarding eligibility and delivery of financial support.
"We are particularly concerned with its relevance to public sector organisations like local government, the amount and timing of the payment, and eligibility for casuals with less than 12 months' continuous service," she said.
"The Australian Services Union wants the Tasmanian Government to underwrite local government and provide a jobs guarantee for local government workers.
"Underwriting the jobs of local government workers will guarantee the ongoing delivery of critical services through the pandemic and at the early stages of recovery."
Tasmania's Local Government Minister Mark Shelton will meet with the federal and state ministers for local government this week to discuss key issues arising for the local government sector nationally as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
He said local government staffing arrangements and facility management in response to coronavirus were a matter for individual councils and will vary according to council size and capacity.
"The Local Government Association of Tasmania has been representing the sector as a whole in relation to any issues arising from the outbreak and has provided input to the work being undertaken by State Government to ensure business continuity for councils, where required," he said.
"Issues raised from the sector so far include: Commonwealth and state stimulus packages; rating, fee and charge relief; emergency management functions; and business continuity through delivering essential activities such as planning, infrastructure maintenance and waste management services."
Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston said every job in the community was "incredibly valuable" and councils would be essential to community recovery.
"There have been so many Tasmanians and people in Glenorchy lose their job," she said.
"We want to make sure that we maintain jobs as much as possible through this crisis."
Originally published as Call for clarity on JobKeeper package