Richmond mayor defends allowing external contractors in region

Richmond mayor defends allowing external contractors in region

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Richmond Shire Council Mayor John Wharton says his council cannot stop external contractors coming into the local community.

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Richmond Shire Council Mayor John Wharton.

Richmond Shire Council Mayor John Wharton.

Richmond Shire Council Mayor John Wharton says his council cannot stop external contractors coming into the local community, despite concerns they might bring coronavirus into the region.

Council's latest COVID-19 update said Richmond was on a major highway and council cannot close a state road.

"Only the state government can close a highway and quarantine a community," the council said.

"Quarantining an area is very different to promoting social distancing - if we were to be quarantined there would be no travel at all, there would be no work, there would be no income."

Mayor John Wharton said he understood the concern of residents regarding the virus, however they were not asking the community to be subjected to anything the state government wasn't already advocating for.

"If you are over 70 or have a health condition, you should be at home. If you are at home there is no risk to you," Cr Wharton said.

"No council has the authority to close a community. Attempts in other communities to restrict visitors and issue travel permits have not worked and are unconstitutional."

Cr Wharton said Queensland Rail was already in the community and had been working for three weeks fixing the line.

"Remember that Richmond was built on the back of the railway. Council cannot stop QR works, we only have the power to close our infrastructure," he said.

"It is important to the economy of Richmond that contractor works continue - this ensures businesses have an income and local people are employed.

"We have contractors who work at our hospital and school. We have builders and electrical contractors servicing our area.

"We need to keep the economy turning for our businesses who would normally rely on the tourism dollar. Contractors in town equals work for our locals - they all need cooks and cleaners, they all need a place to stay and meals."

Cr Wharton said while council had restrictions regarding its workforce and non-essential travel, they had no control over what the community does and this was evident over Easter with visitors in town from places where there were confirmed cases.

"There is no difference from this occurring to external work crews coming to town," he said.

The story Richmond mayor defends allowing external contractors in region first appeared on The North West Star.

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