Noosa Mayoral Candidate Clare Stewart has called on the community to come together, while flagging the possibility of a business-focused relief package as local operators already succumb to the strain of COVID-19.
Ms Stewart said she had met with numerous members of the Noosa business community who indicated the impacts were already being felt.
“I’ve spoken to businesses large and small who have genuine fears this will not only affect their livelihood but that of their staff,” Ms Stewart said.
“The impacts are being felt now, with events cancelled, forward bookings in decline and patronage dropping at local eateries and cafes.
“Many predict the traditional Easter tourism peak will be a washout, staff at prominent local businesses have already had their hours cut, and businesses have no idea how long the effects will last.
“In the interim, this has the potential to affect every layer of our community in terms of tourism dollar, local business, healthcare and community events.”
Ms Stewart said in the wake of such a serious threat, now was the time for the Noosa community to come together and support their own, while Council should be spearheading the local response through leadership and initiatives.
“The issue might be concerning and at times the message from authorities is confusing, but one thing is clear: if the Noosa community comes together and supports their own, we can weather the storm.”
Ms Stewart said ways everyday residents can support their business community included:
• Good hygiene practices and social distancing
• Opting to shop locally where possible, particularly when it comes to essential items
• Supporting local eateries through online ordering
• Holidaying safely in their own backyard utilising local providers where feasible
• Writing positive Google and Facebook reviews for local businesses
• Shopping online with local boutiques for gifts, homewares, and items
In the meantime, Ms Stewart noted true resilience relied on creativity and already a number of local initiatives were drawing the community together in innovative ways.
“This is the time to step up and support each other with practical assistance and care,” she said.
“Excellent initiatives include Facebook groups that connect people with elderly residents who may need their shopping done or their medications picked up.
“Other ideas, such as the ‘YELLOwT Street by Street’ campaign, focus on connecting people with their neighbours, ensuring they have each other’s number and then implementing a coded system like a ribbon tied to a mailbox to indicate you are well, and available to assist if needed.
“These are both great examples of how we can creatively come together and look after each other as a community.”
However, Ms Stewart stressed the Local Council should be leading by example when it came to putting the people and businesses of this region first.
“I believe at this juncture nothing should be off the table when it comes to looking after Noosa and its residents,” Ms Stewart said.
“That feasibly includes a business relief package similar to that announced for Brisbane. This is the time Noosa Council needs to be looking after its own, whether that’s cancelling the unpopular new signage laws or waiving charges, rents, levies and permit fees for business.
“It also includes a commitment to employing people locally, expediting infrastructure projects that boost local employment, and considering basic projects such as weed control that offer employment opportunity.”
Ms Stewart said these were among the initiatives she would put forward if elected Mayor, along with a commitment to working with the tourism and business sector to identify additional opportunities that steady the region’s economic ship.
“What we do now and in the coming weeks as a council and community will determine how effective Noosa is at managing this crisis.
“I know this community’s tough, I know it’s innovative and resilient. I know that we will find a way and shine in the process. But what we need right now is not just a Mayor who will lead a council, we need leader who will step up and lead this community.”