With many in the Northern Rivers coming to terms with how much worse the already desperate housing crisis is after the floods, today the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare, and Member for Richmond, Justine Elliot, were in Mullumbimby to speak to Byron Shire Councillors about finding a way forward.
Ms Elliot said that she and Jason Clare wanted to see firsthand the devastation the community has faced. ‘Yesterday we were in Chinderah talking to people in caravan parks whose lives have been destroyed.
‘Today in Mullumbimby we’ve been out in the community and talking to locals hearing firsthand how their lives, their homes, and their livelihoods have been destroyed by this flood. And we’ve been calling on the government to do more,’ she said.
Hell and back
Mr Clare said that he could see that the community has been through hell and back. ‘Two weeks ago, people here on the ground were fighting for their own lives and fighting to save the lives of local residents here. Thank God, the local community was here to stand up, to reach out to raise money to help their fellow citizens.’
Mr Clare said that if we didn’t have a housing crisis in the region before the floods, we certainly do now. He said there was currently no part of the country with a more severe housing crisis than the north coast of New South Wales. ‘Before the floods there was almost nothing to rent. Before the floods in the last 12 months, the cost to rent here has jumped by 20 per cent,’ he said.
‘For a lot of people here, even before the floods hit, they couldn’t find a place to rent, they couldn’t afford a place to rent. Now that’s even worse, because you’ve got thousands of homes in the north, right across the north coast that have been obliterated or made unliveable.’
Mr Clare said the area needs more social housing and more affordable housing. ‘Labor has already committed, if we win the federal election, to a $10 billion housing Australia Future Fund that will build 30,000 homes over the first five years right across the country.
‘I’ve said before that that would be allocated to places in need. But let me make it very clear we will prioritise that for the north coast of New South Wales, because I cannot think of a part of Australia that desperately needs the federal government to put its hand in its pocket and start building the housing that is desperately needed.’
Ms Elliot said the Far North Coast community had been amazing during this flood crisis, ‘but we’re facing a humanitarian crisis. People have nowhere to live. They have been offered no food, they have no cash. It is an absolute crisis.
‘And of course, just last week, we heard Scott Morrison announcing an extension or those disaster relief payments for areas down south. It was an extension of two weeks of those $1,000 payments. He didn’t do it for people in those local government areas of Tweed, Byron or Ballina, or Kyogle.
‘Quite frankly, this is disgusting. And we have been treated so unfairly by Scott Morrison. I’ve been repeatedly calling upon him to extend those disaster relief payments for our region, it is vitally important.’