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Byron Shire
December 9, 2021

MP tells parlt constituents were ‘ignored’ following floods

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Ballina MP Tamara Smith told parliament state and federal governments turned their back on her constituents in the wake of the 2017 floods.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens) has spoken in state parliament about the impact last year’s floods had on residents in Byron and Ballina Shires.

And while she had nothing but praise for the SES, Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre and the Red Cross in responding to the disaster, Ms Smith said the state and federal Liberal/National governments had turned their backs on her constituents while responding quickly to the needs of the Tweed and Lismore electorates, which have National Party representatives.

‘I pay tribute to the people of the Ballina electorate who were affected just over 12 months ago when Tropical Cyclone Debbie hit our region. The March-April 2017 floods were one of the most significant events to impact the Northern Rivers region in the past 40 years,’ Ms Smith said.

In the Ballina shire, an estimated 100 residents were evacuated from Cabbage Tree Island by the State Emergency Service as a precaution due to concerns about water supply and sewerage.

‘About 1,000 families in the Byron shire experienced flooded homes. They had to replace carpets, refrigerators, washing machines, sofas, beds and other household items.

‘However, they were not deemed eligible for the Disaster Recovery Payment or for the Disaster Recovery Allowance, for almost four months, despite the Lismore and Tweed electorates being ruled eligible within a few days.

‘The Byron Shire Council estimates that the floods affected just over 1,000 properties in the Byron shire, which equates to one fifth of the community. The Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner survey of Byron shire businesses found that 74 businesses reported that the flood had an impact on their operations.

‘In the absence of an official disaster recovery centre being established, the Mullumbimby and District Neighbourhood Centre set up a pop up centre of its own. The centre, which provides a meal service, reported that the demand for meals went from 50 a day to 100 a day following Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

‘The amazing manager, Julie Williams, said the centre assisted residents from Mullumbimby, Main Arm, Billinudgel, Crabbes Creek, Burringbar, New Brighton, Ocean Shores, Goonengerry, Federal, Wilsons Creek and South Golden Beach in the days and weeks after the floods. Residents in The Pocket and Brunswick Heads also reported flood damage,’ said Ms Smith.

The Red Cross visited approximately 280 homes in Billinudgel, Mullumbimby, New Brighton, Ocean Shores, South Golden Beach, Main Arm and Middle Pocket to check on the welfare of people. Overall, the SES received in excess of 3,400 requests for assistance and more than1,500 emergency service personnel were deployed to the Northern Rivers region during the event.

‘I commend the SES personnel for their flood rescue response. I could not be more proud of the NSW Rural Fire Service and SES volunteers as well as all of our first responder rescue service men and women,’ said Ms Smith.

‘The way that my community responded to the floods a year ago is a testament to their character and resilience and their willingness to lend a hand to others.

‘It is still a shock to me and a matter of disgrace that this attitude was not extended by both state and federal governments when it came to disaster relief. People are still recovering and there is still much work to do.

‘With a warming planet, we need to be ready in the future and governments of the day must respond with generosity from day one,’ Ms Smith said.

You can read the full speech here.

 


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2 COMMENTS

  1. I couldn’t agree more! As the person responsible for setting up and running the ‘FREE Flood Relief Furniture Depot’ at the Mullumbimby Railway Station from the week following the floods, for six weeks, I was so saddened to watch the thousands of people who streamed through during that time, in desperate need of absolutely everything for their homes, and to also hear their despair at the total lack of any recognition of what was happening in our own shire (Byron), when even the Byron Community Centre was only raising for the LISMORE flood, these people felt like they had been let down by the Govt, and also by all the politicians who were flying to Lismore and to the Tweed, for lots of photo opportunities, media stories etc, yet seemed to not even realise that Byron Shire lies smack in the middle and was also as badly effected by the very same floods. From my recollection it was actually five and a half months before Byron was declared a disaster zone, yet it took just three days for the Tweed and Lismore to be declared. Byron and Ballina were just ignored! Good on Tamara for telling the Govt what for! There are still people here in Mullumbimby trying to rebuild their homes and their lives… and still dealing with insurance companies, more than a whole year later! This can never happen again.

  2. Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens) had a loud impact in state parliament about the volume of water in last year’s floods on residents in Byron and Ballina Shires. She had everyone’s attention up to here.

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