Office of the Mayor – Cr Rachel Chambers
Mayoral Minute Voices Community Concerns Regarding COVID Mandate
As local leaders we understand the importance of keeping our communities safe.
We as councillors, have worked hard to support the State and Federal Government’s efforts since this pandemic began.
We have also done what we can to support the vaccine rollout, including encouraging the community to consider vaccination as the best way to protect themselves, their families and the wider community.
We understand the motive behind the State Government’s latest plan is to encourage greater vaccination rates through a carrot and stick approach.
I hold grave concerns this approach will unfairly punish many within our community and ultimately decimate our local businesses and I know I am not alone with many around the Council table and within the wider community holding similar views.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our community, but for many, they face closing their doors from December 17 should the State push forward with its plans to prevent unvaccinated people accessing certain businesses and venues.
The new rules will not only mean they will lose customers, but staff as well. It will also mean greater costs incurred. Already businesses have approached us to say they will not survive these changes as these are the same businesses that have been the most impacted by previous restrictions and shutdowns. Once again, they are the ones being asked to do the work, without compensation, without extra resources and without a clear understanding of their obligations.
Community members have also approached us to share their views of the mandates. In summary, they believe the mandate contradicts a range of freedoms Australians have based their proud citizenship on.
Rural communities like ours have done everything asked of them to this point even though, in the North Burnett, we have had no cases. We have followed the rules, we have lost business, we have been without family and friends and right now, we are all trying to rebuild.
The disaster response has been led by Queensland Health for obvious reasons to this point however the State Government imposed mandate now goes a step too far. It is not the right approach.
We strongly support the need to keep our communities safe from COVID-19 but health risks are only one risk to our community. The real and significant risks to our region are economic and social risks. In an already difficult 20 months, the timing on this mandate just prior to Christmas couldn’t be worse.
Today our Council moved that we give the following feedback to the Premier of Queensland:
- Many of the North Burnett community are concerned as to the detrimental effect proposed mandates will have on their business and industries.
- Many of the North Burnett community are concerned that their freedom of choice and other associated freedoms are being taken away by coercive means.
- Many of the North Burnett community are not anti-vax but are anti-mandate.
- There is still much confusion from business owners surrounding their obligations and liabilities.
We urge the State Government to consider alternative measures as the proposed mandates are causing great angst within our community.
Resolved by Councillors at North Burnett Regional Council General Meeting held 24 November 2021 in Biggenden.