As eight new Councillors and a new Mayor take their positions at the Sunshine Coast and Noosa Shire Councils this week, Sunshine Coast Business Council Chair Sandy Zubrinich looks forward to the significant role that local government will play in restoring the economy, protecting jobs and working collaboratively with state and federal governments and with industry.
“On behalf of the Sunshine Coast Business Council, the region’s leading business advocacy group, I’d like to congratulate all candidates — both new and incumbent – on their success. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with both councils into the future.
“Both the Sunshine Coast and Noosa Councils have seen a turnover of around half the elected council representatives. This provides both an opportunity, to benefit from new points of view, diverse backgrounds and fresh ideas; as well as a risk, given the benefit of consistent leadership and past Council experience when tackling local government’s heavy responsibility in these unprecedented times.
“There is no doubt that the world we live in now is a very different place to when these candidates first nominated for their respective positions. And while many promises and commitments were made during the election campaign — many with the best intentions — it is clear that the current state of our local businesses and economy and escalating unemployment rate means the region’s priorities have changed significantly over the past month.
“While the COVID-19 health crisis is being tackled head-on, the impacts of the parallel economic crisis are only just emerging and will extend well beyond the lifespan of the virus.
“New representatives will no doubt endure a heavy schedule of briefings in the coming weeks as they gain a better understanding of Council policies and procedures as well as their individual remit of responsibility as they head towards finalising budgets by mid-June.
“There were many election promises made in regards to trust and transparency which can absolutely be pursued as well as Council’s influence in guiding and shaping any future changes to planning schemes.
“However, there were also promises made about reviewing and potentially unwinding past Council decisions or even challenging those currently before the courts, such as the 5-star Sekisui House resort in Yaroomba. We would assume that these briefings will also clarify what council decisions can legally be halted, unwound or overturned. Our understanding is that a decision made by a council and endorsed by a court determination cannot be over-turned by a new council – imagine the litigation that would follow.
“We implore councillors to invest their time where the impact can be felt most, rather than wasting precious time on that which has already passed through Council chambers. Focus on making our economy and communities stronger.
“Now is the time to reinforce and invest in local projects which engage local suppliers to inject much-needed funds into our battered economy and create jobs for our rate payers. The need to plan for the future has not changed but it has become harder.
“Now is the time to focus on the already vulnerable young people in our community to avoid our youth unemployment rate becoming worse than it already is and increasing the health and social problems that go with it.
“And above all, now is the time to work collaboratively across local, state and federal governments and the business community to protect jobs, maintain investor confidence and drive local economic growth to safeguard the highly coveted lifestyle we enjoy on the Sunshine Coast.
“All that we ask of our local representatives at this challenging time is that they remain laser-focused on keeping rate payers employed so they can contribute to the wellbeing of our local economy and therefore our region.
“It is only when we have a population that is able to pay its bills that we can protect the things we love most about the Sunshine Coast.”
The Sunshine Coast Business Council is the leading regional business advocacy group on the Sunshine Coast. It represents approximately 4,000 businesses through its membership, which includes key national and regional industry groups and their members as well as national and regional businesses.
For more information please visit www.scbusinesscouncil.com.au
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