Mayor’s Message – March/April 2020
King Island Mayor Julie Arnold reports on the March month of meetings and council workshops and ongoing issues for April.
Imperial 20 and Boat Club:
It seems so long ago that we were celebrating the King Island Hydro Imperial 20 and the King Island Boat Club event.
Both these events were celebrations of our King Island way of life and outstanding successes for the volunteers, sponsors and participants who work so hard each year.
I know we all look forward to the time when we can again come together for celebrations like these.
Mid-March saw an exercise based near the airport which gave all our Emergency officers and staff a chance to develop and review their response to a real life situation. The results from debriefs after the exercise will be invaluable learning tools for the future.
There were too many people who contributed to this exercise to name them all but no one will be slighted if I mention the builders of the model aircraft and the makeup artists whose creations were so lifelike as to be scary.
The impact this disease has had on our world, our nation, our State and our island community is staggering.
Obviously this has impacted Council’s priorities, budgets and resourcing.
Previously I have mentioned:
- To ensure government departments understood King island issues we were insisting on meetings being on the island. This is not, at the moment, possible.
- Council was drafting annual budgets and plans for 2021 and the ten year strategic plan and ten year financial plan were to be worked on.
Budget to June 2020:
Council’s budget for the balance of the 2020 financial year (ie to June 2020) has been impacted by our need to support some of our struggling businesses and individuals.
Rates notices for the last quarter have been sent out with attachments advising that Council will listen to requests for rates relief.
Airport revenue is almost non existent given the reduction in flights into and out of King Island.
Council is reviewing all fees and charges in light of the impact on businesses.
Budget for 2021 and longer term:
These are extremely difficult exercises given the high degree of future uncertainty. We must have some plan but staff and Councillors are struggling to make this work meaningful.
Over the last few weeks a number of staff have worked from home and also been provided to support Police and Biosecurity. Volunteers have also been used by Council to support some roles.
With allowance for individual circumstances, it is now planned to return to a more normal work program.
Travel to the Island:
There has been a lot of discussion with government officers over the level of protection for the community from people travelling to the island. The current situation is:
- All non essential travel is banned
- Residents returning from Australian mainland are required to go into 14 days quarantine at the Boomerang motel
- Residents returning from Tasmania must go into 14 days self isolation at their home. There is no requirement for other persons living at the home to self isolate.
The requirement for residents returning from Tasmania is not as strict as Councillors would like. Council is considering whether people could be asked to voluntarily extend to a household isolation; or isolate individually at Council’s cost.
Persons other than residents must be preapproved for travel to the island, and this will only occur if they are undertaking a service which is classed as essential e.g. medical support.
There are conditions which set out how the essential traveller can behave when on the island.
The setting of conditions under which people can visit the island is not controlled by the Council. The State Controller and the Director of Public Health make these decisions.
A large amount of the general manager’s and my time has been spent on trying to achieve strict conditions for all travellers coming to the island. Whilst not happy with the final result we need to now concentrate on areas where Council can still make changes.
Whilst the continuing issues in NW region are of concern, the overall achievement that is being made toward safeguarding the Australian community shows “the light at the end of the tunnel”.
We need to concentrate on the good news – the resumption of cray sales, the good prices for beef and lamb producers, the great weather – and keep reminding ourselves of our good fortune in living here.
Working together we will get through this. Our upcoming Anzac Day reminds us that Australians, and more specifically King Islanders have come through much darker and more uncertain times.
In closing, I ask again, please-
- Stay home
- Keep social distancing – 1.5 metres from other people
- Wash hands often and always when returning home
- No gatherings of more than two people
- AND stay in contact – phone, email, social media – with friends but also acquaintances who might need the support.