Having read your recent headline about another landslip at Wilsons Creek, I’d like to take the opportunity to ask retiring Ballina MP Don Page and Lismore MP Thomas George a question or two.
What did they do on our behalf when contacted by many members of the community in 2013 when we were restricted to a two-tonne limit on the road and facing possible collapse with no access in or out?
We the residents formed an online action group, and then in collaboration with Byron Shire Council commenced a reference group of councillors, staff and residents, which eventually resulted in two of the seven landslips affecting the Wilsons Creek, Huonbrook, and Wanganui communities being completed, and the other five being fully funded.
Thanks should go to Crs Duncan Dey and Basil Cameron for their outstanding representation on our behalf, and to Phil Holloway, manager of community infrastructure, and his staff. They all worked out of hours at times to hasten the process of repair. Project engineers were employed to oversee all the landslips in the shire. The result is that some of the slips were completed earlier than would otherwise be expected.
However, the delays are still totally unacceptable. Our near neighbours at Upper Coopers Creek were totally isolated for months due to total collapse of their road, with total disruption to lifestyle.
The process of applying to the state government for disaster relief funding takes way too long in emergency situations such as these, the wheels of bureaucracy are excruciatingly slow.
At the time of the action group, Mr George was our state member, and Mr Page was the minister for local government. Both were invited to the Wilsons Creek Landslip Project Reference Group. Both gave their apologies.
Mr Page is now back to being our local member due to an electoral redistribution. Between now and the next election Mr Page, what can we expect you to do to to improve the speed in which disaster relief funding is allocated to isolated communities with no other access?
What can we expect your government to do to ensure adequate road funding for rural roads when we see huge investment in superhighways, while our offshoots literally crumble into the creek.
And while I’m on the subject, perhaps the Byron shire community as a whole, and the various pressure groups within it, could keep in mind while they lobby hard for their various project funding, that without our rural roads, your farmers markets would dwindle to nothing, your hinterland tourism will become an unsafe joke, and you’ll need to find funds for a lot of helicopters.
Allow the Council the funds they need to adequately maintain drains, reseal and fill potholes, as boring as that may sound.
And to Byron Shire Council, thanks for the vast improvement in communication, effort and action, but a reminder to all that we still have five slips funded, but yet to be repaired from previous wet seasons, and now a brand new one, with at least a three month wait to secure disaster funding.
A. Maclean, Mullumbimby