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.