Mayor Steve Christou’s Weekly Message

An insight into what's happening around our local community.

9 July 2021

Two Blues call to arms — back your local team

In my ongoing fight to keep our local Two Blues Rugby team alive, I put forward a “call to arms” at the council meeting. The Two Blues are under threat because the eastern suburbs and north shore clubs are trying to merge the western suburb clubs so they could extend their catchment areas into the west. This happened just as council is finishing a new $13.5 million stadium and international standard rugby field at Granville Park for the Two Blues.

The disappearance of the Two Blues will reduce sporting pathways and development opportunities for our young people – many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds.

On Wednesday evening, Council voted unanimiously to support the Two Blues by writing to Rugby Australia, the local state members, shadow sports minister and sports minister, seeking their advocacy. While I’m yet to see any meaningful contribution on this matter, I urge those elected representatives to use their influence in their shadow portfolios and ministerial portfolios and ask they support our local club to ensure it remains a local club. At a minimum our residents and sporting groups deserve that level of service.

If you’re interested in supporting the Two Blues, contact the club’s general manager Craig Morgan via The Two Blues have launched a membership drive for the 2022 season to build support. The membership package includes a season pass to all Two Blues home games at the new facility. Visit their website for more details.

Mayor Steve Christou (front, centre). From left, Craig Morgan, Nick Blacklock, Dennis Garlick, Pricilla Samoa, Norwin Iatu, Zebulun Kavapalu and Lachlan Pethybridge.

Campaign for increased pensioner rate rebates

With the new rebate policy, eligible pensioners can receive up to $100 back each year on their rates. This is in addition to the legislated $250 a year rebate set by the state government, bringing the total rebate to $350. Our pensioners and their wellbeing is of vital importance to us, so I’m glad we could make this happen.

Now, the aim is to increase the mandatory $250 rebate as the fixed amount does not reflect inflation, rate increases or even the current pandemic. Had the maximum rebate been increased in line with CPI for example, the $250 set in 1993 would be in excess of $450 in 2021. IPART’S review of the local government rating system advised that pension concession systems should be entirely funded by the state and sharing the burden with council limits the capacity to deliver local public services. I have written to the Minister for Local Government for consideration and assistance.

The pensioner rebates help support some of the most vulnerable people in our community. They are generally financially vulnerable and struggle to keep up the cost of living. We call on the state government to further assist pensioners. We will do our best to advocate for our pensioners while also balancing the needs of the community.

Mayor Steve Christou speaking with seniors earlier this year.

Business and community support

In terms of financial support, I’m pleased that Council will waive all unpaid outdoor dining and goods on display application and licensing fees for the rest of this year. These fees are normally paid by businesses to council to have tables and chairs on the footpath or to display their goods on the footpath in front of their stores. We’ll also ensure that any of our commercial lessees are able to approach us to discuss rent deferral and relief options. This will provide them with some certainty over their businesses and their lease arrangements with us. For the casual hirers of our sporting facilities, sportsgrounds and venues, we will refund any bookings cancelled because of the public health orders.

I will also write to our local State Members of Parliament, seeking their strong support and advocacy for local businesses and the community during this difficult time. This includes advocating for grants and stimulus packages for local businesses.

We are here for our residents and our local businesses, and I encourage all affected by COVID-19 to contact us or visit our dedicated web page to see how our services have been impacted. We’ve proven we’re a strong and resilient community and we will come through this again as we did before.

If you have any issues you’d like me to help you with, please contact me by: