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Byron Shire
September 28, 2023

Byron Mayor gives ScMo ‘the benefit of the doubt’

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It’s the $2,000 question. Will the Byron, Ballina and Tweed Shires share in the extra government disaster payments offered to our neighbours in Lismore, Richmond Valley, and Clarence Valley?

Last Wednesday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that adults affected by the floods in these Shires would be offered two additional payments of $1,000 owing to ‘catastrophic flooding’ there.

This would bring the total payments available under this scheme to $3,000.

But the offer was not extended to Byron, Ballina and Tweed, despite the fact that these areas had also been declared disaster zones by the Federal Government.

Issue caused great anger

The issue caused great anger amongst locals trying to rebuild their lives, and become a source of heated political debate across the region and at a national level.

As the outrage grew last week, Mr Morrison said he was ‘looking at’ extending eligibility for the extra payments.

‘We’re looking at other impacted areas in those districts to see how we might extend some of that support,’ Mr Morrison said.

‘…You define a couple of LGAs early on, the most impacted, and as the damage assessments come in, you will add others to that list when you go through the proper process.’

‘Disgusting’ and ‘astounding’

But the Labor Member for Richmond, Justine Elliot said the decision to leave Byron, Ballina and Tweed out was ‘disgusting’ and ‘astounding’.

‘It’s really insulting we don’t get that [extra money], we definitely need… much more than what they’ve put forward, it is really dire and it’s been a complete failure of the state and federal government,’ Mrs Elliot said.

Others have suggested that the decision was a political one, stemming from the fact that the LGAs where residents will be given extra payments are in the electorate of Page, which is held by the Nationals, while Ballina, Byron and Tweed are in the neighbouring Labor seat of Richmond.

Barnaby Joyce: ‘insulting’

This claim was hotly denied by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who described it as ‘insulting’.

Speaking at last week’s Byron Council meeting, the first since the floods, Byron Mayor Michael Lyon said the Federal Government deserved ‘the benefit of the doubt’.

‘We lobbied very profusely this morning to try and get some kind of understanding around why we were excluded,’ Cr Lyon said.

‘We’ve been advised by the national resilience and recovery agency that it’s not a case of us being excluded but that currently they’ve only done the assessments for those three LGA’s that were included and that additional funding for residents and that assessments were ongoing, and that when those assessments were completed there would be additional announcements from other LGAs that would be included.’

Scale of loss just as severe as anywhere else

‘In our own community there’s been just as much loss. Perhaps not in terms of the numbers, but the scale of loss on an individual level has been just as severe as anywhere else.

‘And so we’ll be expecting that funding to come our way and we’ll be lobbying hard for us to be included.’

Independent councillor, Mark Swivel said that the government deserved the benefit of the doubt ‘to a degree’.

‘Let’s look at what the extra funding would actually represent,’ he said.

‘When you stand in homes that are now uninhabitable, the idea that you would provide such a paltry sum of money in such circumstances is just unimaginable to me.

‘The Federal Government has funded various programs in a lavish way over the years.

‘The level of support being provided to people whose lives have been destroyed, their houses uninhabitable, their businesses destroyed. I mean what use is $3,000 for even only your car. It’s kind of ridiculous.’

The Echo is awaiting a response from the National Recovery and Resilience Agency about its process for assessing eligibility for funding payments.

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  1. ScoMo-mouse is a scum bag – left right & center. It’s no wonder he does
    not know the cost of an ordinary loaf of bread whereas he’s up to the
    minute on a hand held lump of coal. Our entire area has always been
    seen as one. Time for a song of genuine grace from our lot to the tune
    of “I’ve got plenty of nothing while nothing’s plenty for me”.

    • President ScamMO, got his black wonder rock in one hand.
      And for a brief photo op moment had his ‘special squeegee’ in the other , doing a walkby for the cameras on a pristine clean floor. The insult is breathtaking.
      The dude is the hopeless, hasn’t a clue about empathy, it always more of business as usual, reigning his terror upon those that need help the most.
      Covid and JobKeeper saw some $20 – $40billions given away to business / firms that didn’t need any help at all or given to business/ firms that didn’t actually quality for the Covid / JobKeeper help.
      Yet here we are in Ballina, Byron, Tweed and President ScamMO somehow can’t find a few $’s of help for flood disaster citizens. If only those areas were on the ‘spreadsheet’ and coloured LIEberal-blue or unNationals- green, then the money would be flowing ( sorry for that ) out the door.
      May Election, Vote 1 President ScamMO and get for another 3 years of what you got the last 3 years.

  2. Morrison: if you want to see where he is as far as the finger on the pulse, watch Peter Dutton’s face when PM Go-slow/stalled is addressing the nation, PD’s expression, where the hell is this guy at? I have never gone after anybody in my life, even when I have had multiple knees in the groin. But this camera savvy PM turns my guts to the point of projectile vomiting 10 paces. Did he travel from Sutherland Shire to UNSW then walked over the road to take electives at NIDA. Good health, soldier on & enjoy your day.


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