'Their role is critical': Templeman calls on local governments to freeze rates, assist businesses

Mandurah MP David Templeman is calling on local governments to see their communities through this time of crisis. Photo: Claire Sadler.
Mandurah MP David Templeman is calling on local governments to see their communities through this time of crisis. Photo: Claire Sadler.

Mandurah MP and local government minister David Templeman is calling on cities and shires across the state to put a freeze on rates and "dip into their reserves" to help out those in need.

With WA, along with the rest of the nation, facing an economic crisis spearheaded by the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Templeman says local governments will play a "critical" role in the survival and recovery of communities.

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The minister has called on councils implement several strategies to aid both residents and businesses in what looms as ominous times ahead, including a rate freeze.

"Local government will play a significant role, arguably the biggest of all three levels of government, as we move forward here," he told the Mandurah Mail on Friday afternoon.

"They will need to look at every single way possible to help homes and businesses stay afloat.

"If that's a freeze on rates or a deferral of rates then so be it, or if that's a strategy implemented to help a struggling business, then that's what needs to be done.

"If a local council has a swell of cash reserves, then now is the time to dip into it and pull out all the stops for your community.

"Local governments have done some amazing things in recent years and I'm already seeing them do amazing things as we face this challenge.

"Now is the perfect time for local governments to demonstrate how important they are."

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River has already committed to not increasing rates 2020/21, while also announcing a $2 million funding package to ease the financial burdens on community members.

In a column written for the Mail's March 26 edition, Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams said the City council would be working diligently to aid Peel region locals.

"We know this is going to be a time of significant disruption to people's financial situations," he wrote.

"We'll be working with state and federal governments to ensure that the needs of our community are being met.

"At a local level we are bringing together key support agencies and other community leaders to make sure support is offered where it is needed, in a coordinated and safe way.

"Our lives have, and need to change if we are to get ahead of this."