- McGowan Government exercises new powers to assist local governments, ratepayers and the community
- Assistance for those in financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic and unable to pay their rates
- Improved access to information when a local government office is closed
The Minister for Local Government has exercised his new powers under the Local Government Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020.
The Act gives the Minister the power to modify or suspend provisions of the Local Government Act while a State of Emergency declaration is in force, and where the Minister considers that such an order is necessary to deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, the Act gives the Minister the power to ensure residential and small business ratepayers who are suffering financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not be charged interest on overdue rates in 2020-21.
The maximum interest rate payable by all ratepayers has also been reduced.
The order also deals with issues relating to requirements to hold public meetings, access to information when council offices are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and budgetary matters.
Other measures will directly assist local governments through removing red tape and compliance requirements that are not considered to be necessary while local governments and the community deal with the pandemic.
To ensure that the health of community members is not put at risk, requirements for public meetings have been deferred until after the State of Emergency is lifted.
Alternative access to information is being provided while local government offices are closed.
These measures complement other legislative changes which have allowed electronic meetings, and made it easier for local governments to access funding, and goods and services to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.
Comments attributed to Local Government Minister David Templeman:
"I welcome the work that the local government sector is doing to keep rates as low as possible for ratepayers.
"I have used my powers to ensure residential and small business ratepayers who are suffering financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not be charged interest on overdue rates in 2020-21.
"Residential and small business ratepayers will need to demonstrate hardship to their local government to qualify for this.
"This is a difficult time for everyone and all levels of government are working together to alleviate the impacts of these extraordinary times and get our economy back on track."
Minister's office - 6552 5400