The Local Government Association or Queensland (LGAQ) has urged the State Government to reimburse councils for the cost of managing border closures, following the recent decision to reinstate a hard border closure with NSW due to the latest COVID outbreak.
Acting Premier, Steven Miles, announced the Queensland border would close to all NSW residents from 23 July. This follows the declaration of Victoria and South Australia as hotspots.
LGAQ CEO, Greg Hallam, said local governments recognised the need to implement border closures to mitigate the health risks during the pandemic.
“The border councils involved have stepped up without question to help the State maintain those strong border controls,” Mr Hallam said.
“However, the ongoing costs of implementing these arrangements are becoming a real financial burden on some of our rural and remote councils.”
Councils most impacted include Paroo, Balonne, Southern Downs and Bulloo shire councils as well as Goondiwindi Regional Council.
Costs incurred by councils because of the border closure include providing support to the Queensland Police Service through the supply of generators, accommodation and other critical supplies.
Mr Hallam said costs already borne by some of these councils from previous border closures represented about 15 per cent of their annual general rates income.
“Asking border councils to simply accept 15 per cent of their rates revenue being redirected to border closure costs ultimately means their communities miss out on core council services being delivered for their communities,” Mr Hallan said.
Mr Hallam said the State Government needed to acknowledge the financial strain on councils of recurring border closures and provide support funding for the affected councils.
“We need the Government to help our councils with the retrospective reimbursement of their border closure costs, as well as a promise of financial support for any future closures,” Mr Hallam said.