Lismore business owner implores PM for grants, not loans

PM Malcolm Turnbull and Page MP Kevin Hogan survey the sodden streets of Lismore on Monday (April 3) following the devastation of Friday's floods. Photo Rodney Stevens

PM Malcolm Turnbull and Page MP Kevin Hogan survey the sodden streets of Lismore on Monday (April 3) following the devastation of Friday’s floods. Photo Rodney Stevens

Rodney Stevens

Lismore business owner Stephen Kreig put the hard word on prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday, calling for government grants instead of low interest loans to help flood ravaged small businesses rebuild.

La Baracca owner and father of five asked Mr Turnbull if grants of hundreds of millions of dollars were offered to car manufacturers to continue production in Australia, why couldn’t the government provide the same assistance to the hundreds of Lismore small businesses devastated by flooding.

‘A loan won’t do anything for me,’ Mr Kreig said.

‘I’m facing the fact that if I don’t open my doors, I’m going to have to sell my house.’

Staff and friends who rallied to help Mr Kreig clean up his Keen Street premises on Sunday, continued on Monday, assisted by Mr Turnbull, who got down on his hands and knees to lend a hand.

After visiting La Baracca, Mr Turnbull and Page MP Kevin Hogan, pursued by a large media contingent, walked through the Browns Creek car park to Molesworth Street, surveying the damage and chatting to several locals.

Lismore mayor Isaac Smith greeted Mr Turnbull outside Centre Church and thanked the prime minister for coming to view the destruction.

He then presented Mr Turnbull with a heart shaped Lismore pin, which the PM promptly attached to his shirt.

$40m damage to roads

PM Malcolm Turnbull at the Centre Church's sausage sizzle for people involved in the Lismore clean-up on Monday April 3. Photo Rodney Stevens

PM Malcolm Turnbull at the Centre Church’s sausage sizzle for people involved in the Lismore clean-up on Monday April 3. Photo Rodney Stevens

Cr Smith told Mr Turnbull council staff had estimated flooding caused by the remnants of tropical cyclone Debbie had caused $40 million damage to roads in the Lismore local government area.

After meeting members of Centre Church who were providing free food and drink to people involved in the clean up, Mr Turnbull held a media conference, praising the solidarity and community spirit of the people of Lismore.

Mr Hogan thanked Mr Turnbull for visiting Lismore to see the devastation and experience the heartache of locals.

‘Lismore as a community and indeed the wider region has been absolutely devastated by this flood event…to the extent that you do not have to walk far around this CBD area to hear heartbreaking stories,’ he said.

‘I invited Malcolm immediately to hear those stories because it’s one thing to see things on the TV, to hear stories on the radio or to read stories in the newspaper, but there’s another thing about eyeballing someone who is devastated and heartbroken by an event.’


Mr Turnbull said after nature flung the worst at Australians, it always brought out the best in people.

‘You see the resilience of the business people here and the families here cleaning up and getting on with life,’ he said.

‘To see treasured possessions, all of a life’s work, all of the assets of a business flung out onto the pavement, that’s gut-wrenching stuff.’

While Mr Turnbull wouldn’t commit to providing grants to help businesses and families rebuild, he said funding was available through both state and federal governments.

‘There is a full suite of support for a region like this that is recovering,’ he said.

‘We have got more support for flood recovery now than we ever had in our nation’s history.

‘Grants are available to homeowners through the state government’s program which we fund 50 per cent of.

‘As far as businesses are concerned…the support is through a low interest loan – and that’s been very important for farmers and businesses.’

Cr Smith echoed Mr Turnbull’s comments and praised the community spirit shown during the clean up.

‘It has been a fantastic effort,’ he said.

‘People are staying positive and we know that we can recover from this and everyone is pulling together to make sure it happens.’


13 responses to “Lismore business owner implores PM for grants, not loans”

  1. Andrew Booth says:

    Why live in a place that floods?

    • marian simms says:

      Why invite a cyclone, Andrew Booth?

      – how low are these “Low Interest Loans”? – Lismore needs a lobbyist.

  2. mike says:

    Low interest loans? What an a**.

  3. Param says:

    Nature wouldn’t have “flung her worst” at us if she hadn’t been raped and pillaged for the last however long, in which our government is currently implicated. It’s not her fault!

  4. Liz says:

    Interest FREEEEE Loans would even be better… how can getting in to more debt help small businesses

  5. Simon says:

    $24 billion tax cut for business ? – part of this would have been better spent giving cash to small business to get them going again. No loan. No interest. No payback. Just give. Say half this, perhaps $12 billion for lost homes and businesses. Now that’d do something great for the economy.

  6. Jon says:

    Had to laugh at the sight of Malcolm pretending to get down on his knees scrubbing a wall with a nail brush. How long did he do that before the photo op ran out?

  7. Lobby like blazes. Millions of dollars were found for car manufacturers ‘over there’ and 24 billion in tax-cuts as a red-herring pre-election lolly. Too many farmers have gone to the wall due to the Government’s so called low interest loans.

  8. Mark Bailey says:

    You can take the Prime Minister out of the Merchant Banker but you can not take the Merchant Banker out of the Prime Minister.

    Can you imagine Bob Hawke or John Howard refusing a sausage at a sausage sizzle. Turnbull did.

    Why was Malcolm on his hands and knees scrubbing an immaculately clean floor.

    Funniest Home Video this year. The local National Party MP Kevin Hogan steering the Prime Minister into a shop owned by a well known local Nationals supporter who proceeded on National Television to bucket the PM and his low interest loan scheme. I bet poor Kevin won’t win the Best Parliamentary Office this year.

    Finally, if Labor could give Lismore Grants after the last flood why are the Liberals only giving loans…. I guess it’s all about the “leaners and lifters” philosophy they love so much.

  9. Mullum Rush says:

    I am appalled that Queensland flood victims (Cyclone Debbie) can apply for federal flood assistance but NSW can not. Let’s vote Malcolm the pretend wall scrubber out next election!

  10. Tweed says:

    Another staged photo op for Cayman Mal. It really is vomit inducing, probably cost tax payers a $100,000 plus to fly Cayman and the current State premier, whats her name? And their WHAM units “win hearts and minds” propaganda media and photographers up to stage this meet and greet.
    Now they are back in Sydney safely cocooned once again against the real world and real life.

  11. Kerry Kelly says:

    ‘Assisted by Mr. Turnbull who got down on his hands and knees to lend a hand’ I seriously hope this statement was meant to be ‘tongue in cheek’. He made himself look like an idiot.

  12. Paul Hunt says:

    We can do it without him Northern Rivers, just like we did at Bentley ..

    My heart goes out to all affected . So many of my close ones have lost so much, family pets, cars, clothes, houses full of mud and yet we are all moving forward in the clean up amidst this persistent precipitation ..

    With Federal Government responses like this I would love the Northern Rivers to get together and push to become a Sovereign Nation free of the bullshit that still remains after the English Invasion ..

    RE LOVE UTION required and we have the Mob to acheive it ..

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