New COVID support welcomed, now vaccinations must be expedited: ALGA

Joint Federal and NSW government financial assistance for businesses and households impacted by the Greater Sydney lockdowns has been welcomed by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).

The $5.1 billion package includes payments for businesses and households impacted by current lockdowns, and followed calls for support from Local Government NSW, an ALGA member.

A Federal Government commitment to extend the support package to any other state or territory that experiences an extended lockdown has also been welcomed by ALGA.

ALGA President Linda Scott said she was pleased the sector’s calls have been heeded.

“This latest COVID outbreak threatens the locally-led economic recovery councils have provided for their communities following a horrid 18 months of natural disasters.

“These efforts have not only expedited the recovery process but helped create thousands of brand-new local jobs.”

Cr Scott said job-creation and economic recovery efforts are being stymied by the slow pace of COVID vaccinations, and she reiterated local government’s offer of using council-owned buildings like town halls, childcare centres, health clinics, and libraries as mass vaccinations hubs.

“Ramping up vaccinations to ensure community coverage is the quickest way to circumvent the need for future lockdown,” she said.

“Since the start of the pandemic, councils have worked individually and with state and federal governments on a range of COVID responses, and local government stands ready to assist in ramping up vaccinations.”

She said other opportunities to expand local government’s role in administering vaccines were being overlooked because the sector has been excluded from National Cabinet.

“All three levels of government need to be working together on lifting immunity rates so that economic recovery is not further delayed by lockdowns.

“That means including local government in the National Cabinet so that the views and experiences of local communities are heard.”

“More Australians would already be vaccinated if local government had a seat at the table of National Cabinet as it did at COAG,” Cr Scott said.