Kerr: Coronavirus a challenge; Shire will weather storm


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Current Councillor and Mayoral candidate, Michael Kerr. Image: Newsport.

Mayoral candidate Michael Kerr concedes the ongoing coronavirus presents challenges, but is confident a strong Douglas Shire Council will weather the storm.

He told Newsport that there are challenges ahead for all of us, but together we will weather the coronavirus storm.

As information filters through on a regular basis about the coronavirus, Cr Kerr is already thinking ahead as to how this will affect the shire while urging people to remain calm yet prepare for a period of uncertainty.

“Clearly, many are concerned about both their health and how the spread of the virus might impact their livelihoods if they work or own businesses in the most likely affected sectors, travel and tourism,” said Cr Kerr.

“It’s highly likely that the virus will send major ripples through our local economy, but I believe a strong Douglas Council working with other levels of government and a united community will get us through a difficult period,” said Cr Kerr, who is challenging Mayor Julia Leu in the March 28 Local Government election.

Cr Kerr said he is acutely aware of the virus affecting both the local and broader Australian economy, and if elected mayor, he will work with council’s CEO, the tourism body (TPDD) and the Douglas Chamber of Commerce to devise strategies to limit the impact of the virus on local businesses.

He said he remains positive that the ongoing efforts of authorities and a strong local community that rallies together will help the shire weather the worst of the coronavirus storm.

Incumbent Mayor Julia Leu was contacted for comment but was unavailable.

And Cr Kerr said he was disappointed she had chosen not to respond to his comments concerning a global issue which is having a major impact on tourism and other sectors of the economy.

“I think it is a given Newsport readers would like to hear how the Mayor views this issue; and I think she owes them the courtesy of responding to matters that have far-reaching effects in the short and long term,” said Cr Kerr.

Cr Kerr added in terms of health, experts are urging people to be attentive to hand washing or placing hands near eyes and mouths, and saying masks are only necessary if you already have the virus or are in contact with anyone who does. 

“As for stocking up, it can’t hurt to have a little extra non-perishable food on hand, plus basic medicines like Ibuprofen and Panadol, but mostly so that if you do come down with the virus, you can isolate yourself for the 10-14 days it lasts in most cases.

“Of course, always consult with a doctor if you have any of symptoms, such as a fever, shortness of breath or a cough,” he said.

Cr Kerr said we are already hearing about the possibility of assistance packages from state and federal government.

“And if I’m leading Council after March 28, I will be prosecuting the case for such if we see a drop-off in visitors.

“I will also try to devise ways to encourage more domestic visitors to come visit us, something that was part of my policy platform even before the coronavirus hit,” he said.

The Queensland Government, meanwhile, has taken further steps to prepare Queensland for potential impacts of coronavirus, which include:

• Tripling emergency department capacity and doubling intensive care capacity across all hospitals;
• Purchasing an additional 110 ventilators;
• $25 million worth of medicines, gloves and masks have been brought forward;
• Ensuring there is adequate staffing; and
• Additional capacity for fever clinics.

The government also announced that small and medium Queensland businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak will be able to defer their payroll tax payment for six months under a new relief measure. 

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