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Byron Shire
September 25, 2023

Member for Ballina Tamara Smith on recovery

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Ballina MP Tamara Smith. Photo David Lowe.

In the wake of a flurry of announcements across the Northern Rivers from federal and state government MPs, Member for Ballina Tamara Smith has spoken to The Echo about some of the crucial issues.


With the already existing housing crisis becoming a housing emergency in the wake of the floods, Ms Smith said, ‘Immediate housing relief in terms of available housing for flood victims in Byron Shire will flow if the Liberals and Nationals honour their election commitment to our community in 2019 to cap Short Term Holiday Letting ( STHL)  at 90 days for most parts of the Shire.

‘A recent Department of Planning and Byron Shire Council report into the scale of the likely flow of available houses to the private rental market if STHL was capped at 90 days is around 800 whole homes.

‘Byron Shire had a 90 day cap in place that lapsed on 31 January despite my pleas and councillors pleas to extend this until the Planning proposal is due to be approved in June this year,’ she said.

‘I’m meeting with the Minister for Planning this week to request an immediate cap of 90 days for holiday letting in Byron Shire for the next 24 months. We needed housing before the floods and now the need is desperate.’

Local MP Tamara Smith and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet in Mullumbimby recently. Photo Simon Haslam.

Tamara Smith said that if the premier is serious about looking at every option to provide medium term housing to people who have lost their homes in the floods or from landslides, then this is a fundamental first step.

‘Council have a planning proposal well in train to cap holiday letting in most of Byron Shire at 90 days so this would simply hasten that process and provide an immediate incentive to landlords and hosts to rent their properties on the private rental market,’ she said.


Ms Smith said, ‘We welcome any disaster relief and recovery packages that the Federal and State governments are offering, but we may well see problems in the implementation of support.

‘Money for mental health supports for people traumatised and recovering in our community has primarily gone to Headspace and Lifeline to administer.’

She said that while both are excellent NGOs, the problem is ‘our hollowed-out mental health services’ before this disaster hit the region.

Sta positive!
Signs on rubbish in Lismore. Photo Paul Daley.

‘With an acute shortage of available psychologists and counsellors in the Northern Rivers and the need for services to be bulk billed, we are unlikely to see a big take up from local mental health practitioners,’ said Ms Smith.

‘That then means telehealth appointments with someone in another state or city, and many people will simply not pursue the support they need and deserve. There are local NGOs desperately trying to put forward alternate models of mental health care so that we can minimise the long term health impacts of loss and grief on such a large scale in our region.

‘My biggest concerns right now are housing and welfare support for people impacted,’ said Ms Smith.

The Ballina MP concluded by saying, ‘Financial assistance for people to move out of flood zones and to build back better to withstand future extreme weather events must be part of the conversation at all levels of government.’

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  1. Can you guys stop promoting this woman like she’s in your pocket… perhaps if she’d done her job in the beginning and fixed the Richmond river, by making it flood proof and environmentally sound, she wouldn’t have the opportunity to tell everyone how she’s going to fix her own mistakes. What a joke.

  2. Dale, our / human’s interfering with functions of nature, especially when we meddle with water, hasn’t exactly scored many wins.
    Floodplains are there for a reason, it is why we use the term,’floodplain’
    Building and then re-building upon a floodplain is folly, it been shown time and time and time again.

    Do you think that the recent 14.4metre record Lismore flood is the forever, ‘flood limit’?
    How high, wide, should a levy to “floodproof” all of Lismore be ?
    Where will all that former floodplain water be diverted to and what would be the affect of that diverted floodplain water?

  3. Dale,
    What do you expect her to achieve in 7 years as a Green under a Conservative government, that the previous 88 years of conservative local members couldn’t?
    Seriously, m8….


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