Council calls for COVID recovery package


Tara Murray

Brimbank council is calling for the state and federal governments to fund a dedicated Brimbank COVID-19 response and recovery package in the upcoming budgets.

The recovery package forms a key part of the council’s wish list for projects to attract government funding.

At its most recent council meeting, the council stated the package should invest in local shovel-ready projects, programs and initiatives that can assist the community to recover and rebuild from the health, wellbeing and economic consequences of a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.

In letters to both state treasurer Tim Pallas and federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg mayor Ranka Rasic said any package would help provide the community with further support.

“Brimbank was, and continues to remain, highly vulnerable to a prolonged and evolving COVID-19 pandemic,“ the letter states.

“Many pre-existing socio-economic issues sadly having already provided fertile ground for the virus to spread during the height of the pandemic; resulting in some of the country’s most severe and intense case numbers and clusters throughout local aged care, meat works, workplaces, suburbs, postcodes and neighbourhoods.

“Despite our collective best efforts in now having contained and mitigated the spread of the virus, significant opportunity exists … To provide our community with further support as we work towards a pathway of recovery.”

The letters include the council’s 19 Point Plan for COVID Response and Recovery (Plan) for re-consideration as part of the 2021-22 Budget process.

The council has received more than $97 million over the past 12 months in response to local priorities outlined in the 19 point plan but is seeking further support.

Council sees the Melbourne Airport Rail (MAR) project, the St Albans Health and Wellbeing Hub and investment in local shovel ready projects, programs and initiatives as key opportunities for government support.

The plan also includes the establishment of a joint government-council COVID-19 Brimbank taskforce, a Brimbank COVID-19 health, wellbeing and economic package, rapid response teams, a community resilience and fairness response, an economic package, the Sunshine Priority Precinct including the Super Hub and Airport Rail, extension of the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments and an integrated transport strategy for Melbourne’s west.

“Just like other communities who have received dedicated support packages in response to severe economic and social shocks, such as Geelong through the closure of Ford and the Latrobe Valley though the closure of Hazelwood respectively, our community and region now needs unprecedented stimulus and support,” Cr Rasic said.