The Federal Government decision to deny the JobKeeper support to Local Government employees will cost local communities.

Late last week, the Prime Minister announced that the program to provide organisations with subsidies of $1500 per employee to maintain their jobs would not extend to Local Governments.

The WA Local Government Association has challenged the decision as unfair and inconsistent with every other initiative implemented by Federal, State and Local Government to maintain economic activity.

WALGA President Mayor Tracey Roberts said the decision comes as almost all WA Local Governments commit to a raft of measures to support the community, including freezing rates and other charges.

“Councils have responded to the pandemic by revisiting budgets, committing to keeping costs down, but in return are denied the same support that the Federal Government has offered to all other employers,” Mayor Roberts said.

“It is very difficult to understand how a person employed in a recreation centre or a child care centre is different to any other employee who has had their workplace temporarily closed due to social distancing restrictions.”

Research by WALGA has identified that about 6300 Local Government employees in WA – or almost 30 per cent of the workforce – could have their positions terminated without the JobKeeper program.

“Councils have been told to keep staff in employment to help maintain spending and activity in local economies, and many Councils have told WALGA they plan to redeploy staff affected by the shut downs but unfortunately there remains a significant group that would likely not be accommodated,” Mayor Roberts said.

“The decision will be devastating for local economies, especially in many regional and remote communities where Local Government is often a significant, if not the major employer.

“The Prime Minister has made some good decisions to support communities in the response to COVID-19 and we implore the Federal Government to revisit the decision in the case of denying JobKeeper support for Local Government employees.”