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Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Plibersek comes to town with a flood of promises

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Page ALP candidate Patrick Deegan with deputy Labor leader Tany Plibersek at Kadina High in Lismore. Photo supplied

ALP federal deputy leader Tanya Plibersek is in the Northern Rivers this week, pressing the flesh and making promises ahead of the upcoming federal election.

While we here suffer through the driest start to the year on record, the timing of her announcement to build a centre of excellence around flood resilience at Southern Cross University (SCU) may seem somewhat ironic.

But we don’t have to look far north to see what the unravelling climate emergency can unleash, with Townsville having copped almost two metres of rain in the past week.

Quite how any community can deal with that is beyond imagining.

In fact, nearly 80 per cent of all natural disasters in the world since 1970 have been flood-related.

Smart sensors

According to Ms Plibersek the new National Institute for Flood Resilience, ‘will include a new network of smart sensors in the local area to more accurately predict floods’.

‘There will also be improved flood safe education in schools.

‘The Northern Rivers is one of the most active flood plains in Australia, so locals know first-hand the devastating impact these natural disasters can have.

‘Floods can cost lives, and ruin homes and businesses.

‘Over the last ten years, every state in the country has experienced major floods.

‘It’s estimated those floods have cost the Australian economy $18.2 billion per year.’

Close by her side, Labor candidate for Page, Patrick Deegan, said the National Institute will include the creation of a ‘flagship emergency Flood Response Centre for the Northern Rivers’.

‘The Flood Response Centre will ensure the best possible co-ordination of the State Emergency Service and allied emergency and incident response in the Northern Rivers region.’

And it will ‘deliver improved communication between vulnerable communities and first responders during a flood’.

‘The Flood Response Centre will work closely with the State Emergency Services, St John’s Ambulance, the Roads and Maritime Service, the NSW Business Chamber, and the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation of Councils,’ Mr Deegan said.

SCU Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said the new Flood Resilience Institute would ‘build on the existing investment and work undertaken over recent years by Southern Cross University’.

‘Specifically, this strengthens dramatically the establishment in 2017 of the Southern Cross Centre for Flood Research; and the two decade-long operation here on campus of the emergency evacuation centre for households and businesses in the Lismore region.’

‘This region is a living laboratory for flood research and flood preparedness. This new Institute will undertake work of national and international significance, drawing on a diverse range of fields from environmental science, business, law, engineering, coastal waters, education and health,’ Professor Shoemaker said.

Funding for the National Institute for Flood Resilience is part of Labor’s $300 million University Future Fund.

Kadina stage

Among other promises Ms Plibersek has made while in the region is a more modest $80,000 for a new portable stage at Kadina High School for music, dance, and drama productions.

She will also attend the launch of Janelle Saffin’s pitch for the state seat of Lismore on behalf of the ALP at the upcoming state election.

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  1. There was no real commitment to ‘climate change’ strategy &
    by the look & sound of it (I was in the back row) nothing that
    Labor intends doing about Adani although the party is aware
    of all the ‘ducking & weaving’ that Adani’s been let get away
    with by the Queensland & Federal Government. I can only
    believe Labor likes coal now & in the future. I took my “Stop
    Adani” sign outside instead. It made sense to discuss ‘Get Up’
    as the new National Party to support. I did not expect I’d do
    ‘a walk out’ still, times are changing. I reckon if Gogh Whitlam
    had been there he’d have joined me & maybe joined Get Up
    or The Greens.

  2. That Labor is supporting the Adani mine does not show it is not committed to climate change. Germany has announced it is moving to renewable power over the next 20 years and so will need coal for that period, as will most other industrialised economies. Coal might be a dying industry but there is no reason Australia should not sell in the interim.

    Gough Whitlam supported many changes in his incumbency but i do recall he showed any great interest in environmental issues. I am sure he would shared our concern about climate change with the knowledge we have to day but Gough was a firm believer that the only way to introduce reform was through a reformist mainstream party – the Labor party, and he rejected the notion of supporting the Green’s middle class predecessor parties, the Australia Party in the late sixties and the Democrats later.

  3. Peter, environmental issues in Whitlam’s reign – the early 1970’s – don’t
    hold water here. Being a member of the ALP then, I am more than
    familiar with the times. Had Gough faced today’s toad-like situation now
    with Parliaments’ in-action to Climate Change he’d be bluntly calling out
    what’s been more than blatantly obvious world wide.So, who’s in bed
    with who? [Yes, there are ‘sleep-overs’ everywhere]. You see, Adani &
    ‘others’ feed off climatic changes since their likes (shareholders etc.)
    helped create ‘the monster’ (greed) in the first place. All so-called
    classes-of-people unite these days. They know what’s going on & why.
    They understand that real solutions exist. The reform -this time- comes
    from the people who care about the land. The full environment. The
    future of the children. We all need safe energy not hollow words.

    • Stefanie You are speculating about Gough Whitlam’s reaction on an issue today, and ignore my main point about him. When Whitlam faced great difficulty changing the ALP from a party bound with sexist and racist polices he did not turn to the then alternative the Australia Party or start his own, he worked from within to reform the ALP and bring it to power.

      The ALP recognizes that even as countries transition to renewables there is still a demand for coal and that provides an opportunity for royalties and the social benifits they deliver work for many QLDers. What you refer to as “greed” is a tradie’s job, funding for better schools and hospitals in QLD, and power for the India’s growing economy and its successful efforts to overcome poverty.

      You obviously disagree and believe Adani should not be permitted. That it is a legitimate and understandable perspective , and you might be right;. But you cannot provide any evidence whatsoever in this matter the ALP has followed its policy on Adani for other than because it believes on balance it is the better thing to do for the country and for its supporters in Central QLD. Making accusations that someone is in bed with someone is facile but unless you can detail and evidence who, when and how much benefit was or will be paid it is just hearsay, something a good lawyer and intellect like Whitlam would have had no time for.

  4. Sexists & racists policy was on the go then just as it is now. What
    has changed is a people perspective, & knowledge that they have
    rights to their own – usually well researched – opinions. It’s healthy.
    By all means we can drag out the Aust. Party + Gordon Barton &
    his Nation Review [ferret]. Yes, I published with them for a short
    time. I also published in The Australian. What Whitlam did at that
    time is for him to answer from the grave. Now, I’m not a student,
    Peter. Lectures are not needed in this all too busy day & age. Coal
    is bad news & we can replace it. Coal supporters, it’s said, will
    be called into account in a not too far distant future.

    • I am sorry Stephanie but if you invoke the name of Whitlam from the grave and suggest he would have joined the fashionable party of the concerned well off – then the Australia Party, later the Democrats, now the Greens – I am not too busy to take the time to correct your rewriting of history. As I said you might well be right that coal is bad news and that we can replace it. That is basis to question the ALP’s judgement but not a basis at all to question its integrity. It remains that you have yet to provide readers with any reason to question that the ALP is supporting Adani because it accepts there is a need to supply coal until countries make that transition, it needs to keep the support of working people in Central QLD, and it needs to generate an income flow to support its social and other welfare policies.

  5. Mixed ancestry, mostly Italian, born in North Queensland. Grew up with cane-fields
    sprouting out of my ears. Lived under the rule of J.B.P’s State of Emergency. What
    else to know? Race horses. Betting shops. Small stuff? Nah. I get tired of listening
    to back-biting. Coal is ‘the issue’… not a personality contest of Whitlam versus what
    he-may-have-been now but maybe wasn’t last time around. As my Giddy Aunt would
    say “You have the right to think, believe, breathe & expect our pollies to do what’s
    best.” Whitlam learned the tough way. Sir J. Kerr. The Queen’s unavailable
    correspondence since the monarchy holds sway. Forget the ‘sorry’. Get on with the
    now. Those who want to work do just that. Work… though lots have guts enough to
    leave the coal where it is.


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Cartoon of the week – 21 April, 2021

We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters is at the discretion of the online and print letters editors.

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Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the week beginning 21 April, 2021

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