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Byron Shire
August 9, 2022

Saffin supports NRRC but residents have questions

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Last week Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin said it was critical that the NSW Premier announce a Reconstruction Commission for the continued recovery and reconstruction process in Lismore and the Northern Rivers.

‘From Day One I have been calling for a Reconstruction Commission – a single body tasked with steering the reconstruction, because of the enormity of the disaster we experienced. The catastrophic weather event of February 28 was not like any other flood.’

Ms Saffin visioned a Reconstruction Commission that would be for the Northern Rivers only, and limited to the time it takes to get the recovery and reconstruction job done.

Yesterday the Premier announced the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC) which will work within and with the local government areas of Ballina, Byron Bay, Kyogle, Tweed, Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley and Lismore.

Turning a corner

‘Today is a good day,’ Ms Saffin said after the announcement. ‘Today we turn a corner in flood recovery. The Premier and Deputy Premier have announced what I have been calling for – a single, coordinated whole of government approach to the permanent recovery and rebuilding of our flood affected communities.

‘The Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation will coordinate planning, rebuilding and construction work across multiple government agencies to help us rebuild our lives and communities. It will take account of mitigation and adaptation measures that are needed to rebuild back better and preparedness.

‘The NRRC will sit within the Department of Regional NSW and be led by David Witherdin, who currently leads Public Works and the Soil Conservation Service. I have met with David Witherdin and I have confidence he has the competence and competence required for the role.’

Ms Saffin said the NRRC will be supported by a community advisory body made up of local representatives who have the requisite skill, knowledge and attitude required to undertake such a role. ‘Putting the community front and centre is recognition of the critical role the community played in the flood rescue and recovery and the Premier recognised that today in the announcement.’

Questions from residents about new Corporation

Many residents have contacted The Echo in regards to a part of the Premier’s announcement that said that the NRRC will have ‘the power to compulsorily acquire or subdivide land, speed up and fast-track the building of new premises and accelerate the delivery of planning proposals’.

Questions arising from this statement are:

• Will these ‘powers’ leave the door open for the possibility of inappropriate DAs being shuffled through?

• Could this Corporation take planning/building/DA decisions out of Council’s hands?

• Is this only for affordable/public housing?

• Will the CEO be removed if there is a change in government?

People are also nervous about an entity with ‘Corporation’ in the title.

Hopefully over the next few weeks a clear outlines of what this means will become apparent.

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  1. Lismore is lucky to have such a strong and energetic state member whilst the federal member seems to be missing in action or ineffective.

  2. Time to recognise that after 20+ years of poor management Lismore Council has failed. Roads that are not fit for purpose, highest water charges in Australia and an unreliable supply, raw sewage being discharged into the river for the foreseeable future, the core of the city a disaster area, flood management a complete fail, highest rates in the area and massive debts. Maybe the state government needs to install a professional infrastructure commission to operate the infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, flood management etc), and leave the council to handle the rest of Council’s activities.

  3. Same immoral pork barreling behaviour as Labor and the Greens have been whingeing about for three years.

    Sad for all the people in the hawkesbury-nepean area, and other parts of NSW, also displaced by floods, but the people of the NR lack compassion for them.

    Sad for all the people, both within and outside the NR region, who were homeless begofe tbe flood event, living in cats and under bridges, etc, but the people of NR lack compassion for them too.

    Our community has disgraced itself as selfish people

  4. A few issues not fully outlined in this story are 1) The possibility of single dwellings being compulsorily acquired for the purpose of demolishing them and building blocks of units, and the accompanying aesthetic and biodiversity impacts 2) The possibility of special zones being drawn up for this redevelopment to take place en masse 3) The possibility of inappropriate high-rise development 4) The possibility pf NRRC leaving behind zoning changes that cannot later be reversed by council 5) The loss of agricultural land, including currently productive agricultural land 6) The possibility of the NRRC extending behind its housing remit into commercial and industrial development 7) The realistic prospect of residents whose land/properties are compulsorily acquired not being paid a fair market price. In the Sydney suburb of Haberfield, residents whose houses were acquired were paid 20-50% under the market value.

  5. The compulsory acquisition component is too open-ended to provide actual current timeframe resettlement conditions. I’m expected to be a burden to a relative for years? As a tenant in a private rental in Lismore when it flooded, there’s no guarantee of even being allowed back to a tenancy anytime soon, let alone the same tenancy with any actual mitigation of the environment that allowed/caused the flood damage to begin with. If I’m expected to return to a unit in a ‘corporation’ controlled rental, there’s obviously no likelihood of control of rent given myself and a large swathe of others are low income. This is starting to pan out like the govts are spending far too much money to just have low income people come back and expect to return to a modest and frugal existence.


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