18.7 C
Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

Electorates miss out on bushfire slush fund 

Latest News

Long COVID and the science, so far…

Increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates as quickly as possible is currently a major focus for Australia.

Other News

The Greens and Ballina Council

With the Greens announcing their intention to contest the Ballina Shire local government election to be held in December...

Teacher survey

The Echo’s survey of local teachers regarding vaccination was as illuminating as it was disappointing. One respondent popped their...


Viruses are organisms at the edge of life and possess genes, evolve by natural selection, and reproduce by creating...

Excessive onanism

Former coroner David Heilpern’s confession last week that he mistakenly recorded a death as from ‘onanism’ rather than aneurism...

Democracy under strain as pandemic continues

With the NSW government now openly threatening that the public will not be able to participate in social activities, work in the public sector or travel interstate unless they are vaccinated for COVID-19, The Echo asked local NSW MP Tamara Smith (Greens) what her party is doing about protecting civic rights and freedoms.

Queensland passes voluntary assisted dying laws

Dying with Dignity NSW has welcomed the passage of Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) laws in Queensland and is hoping that NSW Parliament resumes next month so that this issue can be addressed in NSW without further delay.

Mia Armitage

NSW member for Ballina, Tamara Smith (Greens), has spoken of disgust at the latest Liberal-National government grant rorts scandal, which has directly impacted this electorate and the neighbouring Lismore electorate.

Freedom of information requests from Ms Smith’s colleague in the upper house, David Shoebridge MLC, show the Lismore electorate received less than two-and a-half million dollars in recovery funds, after the so-called Black Summer of 2019/2020, while the Ballina electorate received none.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith by the Richmond River in Ballina. Photo David Lowe.

The NSW Bushfire Economic Recovery grants scheme has been under investigation in a parliamentary inquiry this month, with analysis by Michael West Media showing nearly all of the $177 million in Round One was distributed to coalition-held seats, without a proper application process, and without independent oversight.

A council general manager, in The Nationals-held Clarence electorate, told Michael West the Clarence Valley Council was simply told ‘to provide shovel-ready projects’; and ‘didn’t know’ what the application was for; and thought the process was ‘probably’ pork-barrelling.

Greens MP Tamara Smith told Bay FM’s Community Newsroom last week that the grants scheme was basically ‘a slush fund for The Nationals’.

Residents and businesses on all sides of Mount Nardi in the Byron Shire and Lismore Local Government Area (LGA) were living in anxiety from day to day, while a fire there raged for weeks in late 2019, burning through the national park and threatening the Rocky Creek Dam vicinity. Further south, grass fires were prone to flare up on high fire danger days, while fires throughout the state meant visitors and workers who would normally travel to the region weren’t guaranteed safe passage.

Estimated $90m damage 

Economic damage to the Ballina Shire was officially estimated at $90 million, with Ms Smith saying the figure mostly represented losses in the tourism sector, but also took into account interruptions to usual supply chains.

Ms Smith said the deputy premier’s offer last week to speak to her and other non-coalition MPs whose electorates missed out on much-needed funding was too little, too late, and further underlined a lack of accountability in the grants process.

‘We don’t want to get money that is not fair and open and transparent,’ Ms Smith said, ‘it belies a larger picture’.

‘How does a pulp mill assist reliance into the future with bushfires?’ the Ballina MP asked, referring to a Visy Pulp and Paper mill in the Snowy Valleys, which was awarded $10 million from the fund.

Independent media outlet Crikey described the business as ‘controlled by one of the Coalition’s biggest donors, Anthony Pratt’.

♦ Mia Armitage is a Bay FM member.

♦ Full story at www.echo.net.au. Listen to the full interview with Tamara Smith at Bay FM.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. The unNationals, there are no words except to say that when you have ScottyfromMarketing at the tiller of taxpayer hard earned….anything goes and it All Good


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

ScoMo does it again

ScoMo recently travelled from the ACT to Sydney, not something to be recommended at the moment. What is an essential worker? Surely someone paying 50...

Teacher survey

The Echo’s survey of local teachers regarding vaccination was as illuminating as it was disappointing. One respondent popped their head out the rabbit hole...

10pm Monday – update of COVID venues of concern

The Northern NSW Local Health District has been notified of a number of venues of concern associated with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region.

A new COVID-19 case flies into the Far North Coast

The Northern NSW Local Health District has confirmed that there is a new case of COVID-19 in Northern NSW today, and they will be included in NSW Health’s official reporting tomorrow.