On Tuesday 9 May local Greens MP Tamara Smith once again pursued the question of why the Byron Shire hasn’t received adequate flood relief assistance.
In parliament she asked police and emergency services minister Troy Grant if he would ‘urge his federal counterpart to declare flood‑affected areas of my electorate, such as Billinudgel, Ocean Shores, New Brighton and Mullumbimby, eligible for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance and the Australian Government Category C Disaster Relief and Recovery for affected business?’
Minister Grant countered that he had put the case forward and would continue to do so.
‘It has been proven to me on multiple occasions that the northern rivers community are a resilient bunch,’ said Grant.
‘Despite their resilience, they still need our help. As a government, we will be there to continue supporting that community as we try to overcome some of the gaps.’
Ms Smith told Echonetdaily she was pleased that Mr Grant has been making representations to the Federal government on behalf of affected people in Byron shire but questioned why it is taking so long for them to receive assistance.
‘I think the system where the State government provides data on affected communities to the Federal government for them to assess who is eligible for the disaster recovery payments is inconsistent and inadequate,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘The Premier of Queensland was able to give data quickly to support entire regions in Queensland within the first 48 hours of Cyclone Debbie but here in New South Wales we are still waiting on an assessment for Byron Shire. This is despite the fact that adjacent local government areas were deemed eligible within the first 48 hours. I still don’t understand why all six local government areas weren’t deemed eligible since people still have to prove they were harmed by the flood.’
‘My office has been working with people and businesses deeply affected by floods in Billinudgel, Ocean Shores, South Golden Beach, Mullumbimby and New Brighton. We have heard some awful stories of hardship. Being deemed eligible for the recovery payments early on would have lessened the terrible emotional and financial stress for those residents,’ Ms Smith said.