Opposition Leader Bill Shorten yesterday visited businesses in Murwillumbah to hear about recovery efforts a year on from the devastating floods which impacted heavily on Tweed, Byron and Lismore shires.
Mr Shorten was accompanied by Richmond MP Justine Elliott, who told reporters that despite a year passing since the event, many local families and businesses were still facing challenges.
Mrs Elliott attacked the coalition state and federal governments for ‘failing our community here on the north coast’ and ‘failing to provide financial support or community support to our region’.
‘Bill Shorten was in the region one year ago and has paid his respects to the incredible resilience of the local community,’ she said.
Mr Shorten told media that ‘You never want communities to be tested in a way that Tweed Shire, Murwillumbah, the smaller towns and Lismore have been tested’.
‘But I have to say the one impression I get, the positive overwhelming impression is that people pull together,’ he said.
‘The stories which make me feel most pleased to be an Aussie are the stories I hear of strangers and volunteers coming in and helping their neighbours, people they’ve never met perhaps, down the road or in the businesses, clean up.
‘Talking to Council, talking to small business, talking to householders, there’s three things I’ve learned. One, the Tweed Shire and the Murwillumbah communities are resilient.
‘Two, this community has been very hard hit and recovery has been longer and more difficult and more expensive than I think a lot of people anticipated.
‘And three, I’m afraid to say that the State and Federal Governments have been absolutely hopeless.’
‘The fact that there is no clarity about the repurchasing of houses.
‘The fact that a lot of the loans and money available the cash flow for small business, has been tied up in red tape.
‘The fact that there hasn’t been the sort of support that was promised by the State and Federal Government when the Premier and Prime Minister came through here on their picture opportunity disaster tour and haven’t been back, reflects very poorly on the priorities of these governments,’ Mr Shorten said.