Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann

December 17, 2021

Somerset Regional Council will request the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reconsider the COVID-19 restrictions which came into effect across Queensland on Friday.

“Council is aware of the concerns of the business sector and our residents in general about the impact on our economy and the social fabric of our community,” Mayor Graeme Lehmann said.

“We share some of those concerns, particularly in relation to the mandates potentially being applied to community facilities such as Council owned libraries, customer service centres, halls or civic centres, swimming pools, gyms, showgrounds and recreational fields.

“Our worry is also that our community will become divided – and we are seeing signs of this already – which leads to segregation.

“We understand the need to keep people safe from this virus and commend the Chief Health Officer and State Government for their work to date in this area.

“We will comply with legislation, however we believe that the current measures will ultimately have a negative impact on communities like Somerset, which are still working hard to recover from the effects of drought, bushfires, floods and the pandemic.

“Council will respectfully call on the State Premier to reconsider the December 17 mandates, due to the segregation becoming apparent in the community.”

Mayor Lehmann asked residents to remember that local businesses, and Council staff, should not be attacked for doing what is legally required of them.

“Despite our personal views about these public safety measures, staff doing their jobs should not be targeted for abuse or have to endure bad behaviour as part of their workday. Council will not be tolerating any form of abuse towards staff, who are simply doing their jobs in difficult times,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Cr Helen Brieske noted the “Be Kind” campaign being taken up by many small businesses, particularly on social media.

“While we shouldn’t need to be reminded to be kind when we are out and about doing our usual activities, these are difficult and uncertain times and many people are feeling stressed,” she said.

“Understanding that the people greeting us at business counters or serving us in shops are friends, sisters, brothers, children and parents trying to navigate the situation just like the rest of us is worth remembering.”

Somerset Council says the COVID-19 public health and social measures announced by the State Government last week presently only apply to Council-owned galleries, which in the Somerset Region includes The Condensery at Toogoolawah and Glen Rock Galley at Esk with only vaccinated people able to enter.

Council-owned libraries, customer service centres, recreation grounds and swimming pools remain unimpacted.

However, several local government services remain under review and may be impacted, including showgrounds and the Somerset Civic Centre, which Council is working through with the State Government.

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Somerset Regional Council is set to undertake an electronic survey of the region’s local road network to assess its condition and accurately inform the development of priority works programs.

The project – using the RACAS (Road Asset Condition Assessment System) technology used by the South Burnett Regional Council – is scheduled to begin later this month and is the first comprehensive survey since 2018.

“The electronic survey will give Council a true picture of the condition of its roads. This is essential to inform future works,” Cr Jason Wendt said.

“The technology provides an online mapping environment to visually show all the roads that Council owns and maintains. Priority works are mapped based on condition, so we know where, when and how often roads need to be maintained or developed.

“It takes the guesswork out of Council’s future works programs and ensures we get the best value for money from our ongoing investment in the maintenance in local transport assets.”

RACAS is mounted on the roof a vehicle and can assess both sealed and gravel roads.

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Somerset Regional Council has welcomed the increased annual support for Somerset from the Queensland Local Government Grants Commission.

“In July of this year, we were invited to lodge a submission about the way that our largest annual grant is determined and we were upfront in making solid economic arguments for a general redistribution of funding towards councils with less revenue,” Cr Bob Whalley said.

“While we have the largest council area in SEQ, Somerset statistically has some of the lowest household incomes in SEQ and with it, a low rate base.

“This creates challenges for us in managing vital infrastructure like roads and bridges.

“Our community, our industry and our economy rely on us to keep our 1483km local road network safe, open and able to carry commercial loads above everything else and we need to deliver on that.”

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The Valuer-General’s Office will issue land valuations for all properties in Somerset, Gympie and Toowoomba council areas in 2022.

Land owners are expected to receive their new land valuations from the Department of Resources by March 31.

Anderssons Fruit Market for quality fruits and vegetables


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