‘We need to be ready for war’: Call to combat COVID crisis

THE newly-elected council's first priority should be to establish a "war room" to do battle with the coronavirus on a bigger scale than what's already being done.

That's the view of Division 6 candidate Gerard O'Connell, who says greater recovery efforts are needed as the region braces for an inevitable social and economic downturn from the pandemic.

It comes as the council gets ready for a special meeting today on a financial assistance package for businesses affected by the virus.

Mr O'Connell, who led the council in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, said the proposed "war room" would be able to propose initiatives like freezing rates and relaxing fees and charges.

 

Former Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell.
Former Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell.

 

"We need to bring forward as much infrastructure as we possibly can," Mr O'Connell told the Chronicle.

"That would go to local contractors, so it would be a local-only initiative ... hopefully minimising the job losses."

Fraser Coast Council CEO Ken Diehm said an incident management team had already been founded in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Until yesterday, our team operated in a dedicated 'war room' in Ellengowan St but this was moved to the council's training room," Mr Diehm said.

The council has already responded to the coronavirus pandemic by closing facilities like libraries and WetSide Water Park to prevent the spread of the virus.

Today, a special meeting will be held to determine if a financial assistance package is needed.

Division 6's other candidates had mixed responses to Mr O'Connell's proposal.

Incumbent councillor David Lewis said an advisory committee would be useful during a crises but the council needed to be careful of "outsourcing" its legislative decision-making.

Richard Mott said he would support such a proposal but Owen Cronin wanted the group to be more "community-focussed".

Karla Reardon said the concept of a "war room" was unhelpful during times of panic and the group should focus on financial aid and housing as priorities.

Rick Whittle said the proposal "made a lot of sense" if the right specialists were involved.



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