The Ipswich City Council administration building.
The Ipswich City Council administration building.

No Jobkeeper payments for council staff

DESPITE a number of council operated facilities closing their doors during the coronavirus pandemic, Ipswich City Council said none of its staff has been stood down, but other arrangements have been organised.

Ipswich Art Gallery, Ipswich Libraries, the Civic Centre, the Visitor Information Centre, the Nature Centre and swimming pools across the region all closed last month in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Plus, all major council events scheduled for April and May have been cancelled.

An Ipswich City Council spokesman said a number of casual employees no longer had shifts.

"Council is providing a number of options, including pandemic leave," he said.

"Council has been able to find alternative work for most employees whose substantive roles have been impacted at this time. Council has set up an internal committee for this.

"For example, a group of council employees is currently assisting West Moreton Health with their efforts to trace Covid-19, and to check in with those who have contracted the virus."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said local government councils across the country would not be entitled to access the JobKeeper payment scheme and said if support was necessary it would be provided by state and territory governments.

Member for Blair Shayne Neumann gave the council credit for issuing pandemic leave, but said the Federal Government needed to do more to help local councils.

"We have seen councils elsewhere, and we've had reports of them and this is a fact, of councils standing down employees and putting them on arrangements, whether it's pandemic leave, in the case of Ipswich City Council, or it's on holiday leave or they've just stood them down in general," he said.

"I'd urge the Morrison government to think again, to extend that JobKeeper, because jobs in Ipswich are very important and council needs the security of the knowledge that the JobKeeper funding will extend to Ipswich City Council, Somerset Council and surrounding councils."

Read more stories from Paige Ashby.