CANDIDATES RESPOND: How to help region handle COVID-19
THE SOUTH Burnett Regional Council election is only days away, and with headlines dominated by stories of coronavirus we thought it was important to get our candidates’ take on how they would support the region through this tough time.
“I believe the government has implemented a good response so far for the economy however it will be a trying time mentally.
We will need to pull together when this is over and make sure that during we have the necessary support for people to check in and get what they require.
I’ve already seen amazing responses from the public offering to deliver and help those unable.
If anything it’s been a good time for us to be more appreciative of our way of life but also recognise what we no longer manufacture here and what we can do to rectify that because it won’t be in my opinion the last time we see a super virus play havoc.
We can use this information to build a new safer future for us all.”
“There are already considerable job losses in a number of industry sectors.
There will be impacts through social isolation and significant disruption to all forms of sports, events and gathering together in groups.
My intention will be to ensure that up-to-date and accurate information is available on all assistance measures to all residents.
I will continue to work with Queensland Health, state and commonwealth governments to ensure our community has all the assistance it needs. The world has changed.
We need to encourage and support each other in finding a new normal to our daily routines. I will work with councillors to review council’s hardship policy and look at all options for the coming financial year budget.
We know this crisis won’t last forever. However, we need to work cooperatively and cohesively and in so doing, work toward a fast return to a normal lifestyle, whatever form that may take in the future.”
“Should I be elected, I have a number of initiatives to put forward to council in support of the community.
However, It is important to understand that council has to work with the LDMG and QLD Health as the lead agency.
As such, I feel this is a matter best left with the current mayor, until such time as the new council is sworn in after the election.”
“COVID-19 will have a large impact on the regions small businesses and employment prospects, but in a time of crisis the region bands together and helps one another.
Once we are able to move forward I think we all need to shop local and support local more than we have ever before. Go to the local butcher, baker and clothing stores.
If they don’t have something, ask them to source it.
Keep your money in your community. But in the meantime we need to look after each other’s health and wellbeing.
Check on your friends, family and neighbours.
Use the technology we have to keep in touch.
Don’t social distance, physically distance.
Keep your social and support networks alive and together we will get through this.”
“With unemployment growing and business closing, this is something that we, as a country have not seen before, and it’s during these unprecedented times we need to make sure we look after our family, friends and neighbours.
As a council I believe we need to make sure the information from the state and federal governments is communicated to our local community by all means necessary.
I would also like to review councils hardship policy and then look at ways we can help all sporting and community groups after the crisis is over.
We must make sure that our community stays strong, I believe we can get through this to find our ‘new normal’, whatever that looks like.”
“Our community is in uncharted waters now. Shutting down small business could have enormous consequences moving forward.
Though, this can be a positive for those businesses doing it tough in our community.
For many years the public has sought out retail shopping and trades outside our area.
We have seen many small businesses go to the wall through non-participation in keeping our small community viable, not understanding the importance of spending their dollars in their respective communities.
Technology has I believe played a big part in this.
Is this the change we need to have? I have battled hard over years to encourage people to shop locally to maintain a sustainable community.
Use your tradesmen, food outlets, small businesses, your support will be vital over the coming months and into the future.
We must support our small businesses. We are now seeing our small business moving forward with innovative ideas by way of home deliveries.
We may even benefit from this six month time of reflection on just how we do business to support our community.
My voice in local council – not stagnate, move forward with development by removing development application charges and fees, ease councils fees and service charges,- extend Councils hardship policy to all ratepayers (no increase in rates for coming financial year) and seek additional grant money.
Stay connected with your elders and neighbours. We live in one of the safest locations in our country. Follow the hygiene and distancing rules.”
“My priority is to put people first and to work across all levels of our community, guided by the advice of government and health experts.
This health and economic crisis will impact everyone.
If elected, I will concentrate on what practical support council can provide as we move into self isolation, to stop the spread, to take care of each other and in time, to restore our local economy. I would support the use of technology to ensure we stay connected, and look to alternatives for those who are vulnerable, without internet access or local family.
Council must be agile and act on our community’s needs, maximising its resources to support the lead agency, Queensland Health, to do what needs to be done.
This could see council give radio updates, phone vulnerable residents, prepare emergency relief packs, re-purpose facilities or transport items.
Our response will continuously change, but I will stand with you and together we will honour the ANZAC spirit in these unprecedented times.”
“It is devastating to many sole traders, small and big businesses and some will not see it through.
It is frightening for the aged and anyone who has a pre-existing condition. It is unnerving for everyone as we are in uncharted waters.
I think it is extremely concerning for those who struggle with loneliness and I am concerned about increased mental health issues.
I am keen to show strong leadership, a sense of community and unity. I would encourage everyone to stay at home, stay safe and particularly shop locally.
I will be advocating for Council to reduce costs, lower rates and extend discount periods.
I want to ensure that everyone knows how and where they can reach out for help.
I am thinking outside the square for different ways to communicate because I want to ensure everyone is safe, knows what is happening and feels a strong sense of community.”
“The extent and full impact of COVID-19 is uncertain but without doubt the world and our South Burnett community will be changed forever.
It’s an uncertain and scary future but a positive of our region is the strength of community spirit and resilience and the new council needs to lead the way in supporting our communities to support each other.
We are in for a battle and all need to look out for our friends, families and neighbours.
Now more than ever we need to work together to face each daily crisis and find the best solution.
Co-operation, positivity and communication will be key recovery agents.”
SCOTT ‘HOOK’ HENSCHEN
“In everything I have said from day one, the South Burnett is in a position it has never been in before.
Council is going to have start making decisions never made before.
This was 1/1/2020 at the height of the drought, here now we have a virus that we, our community, country and world are having to make decisions never made.
Every man, woman, child, business, entity and the list goes on will be affected in some shape or form for a period of time.
If elected, and again I say this is not about me, it is about us and team work, support, we have to work together, safely, honestly and diligently.
The repercussions will be long lasting, life changing for many, but we will get through this with everyone on the same page.
Firstly to concentrate on health and safety is everyone`s responsibility, communication, together we will come out the other side stronger.”
The South Burnett Regional Council election will be held this Saturday, March 28.
Here are all the locations across the region where you can vote if you haven’t done prepoll voting.