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Byron Shire
March 31, 2023

Housing essential and not addressed in Budget say MPs Tamara Smith and Janelle Saffin

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Support for women and families and solid investments in infrastructure in the Ballina electorate were welcomed yesterday by local MP Tamara Smith (Greens) following yesterday’s Budget handed down by the NSW Treasurer but highlighted that said there was a failure to address the lack of permanent housing in the region and cost of living pressures. MP for Lismore Janelle Saffin (Labor) said she was ‘disappointed’ that the Budget did not ‘unlock serious funding to “build back better” here in the Northern Rivers region’. 

Ballina MP Tamara Smith outside her electorate office. Photo David Lowe.

‘It is pretty shocking I think for people in our community that there is nothing in the budget that addresses our acute housing crisis or cost of living pressures in the here and now,’ said Ms Smith. 

‘Nurses and teachers are getting a pay rise slightly above the public sector wage cap – three per cent this year and three per cent next year, but when you consider that the cost of inflation is above five power cent this represents a pay cut. This is cruel given the heroic work of our nurses and teachers during the pandemic.’

State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin. Photo Tree Faerie.

No new money for housing

‘It’s an utter disgrace that there is no new money indicated for housing needs and the housing crisis right across the Northern Rivers, which was dire before the floods and is now calamitous,’ said Ms Saffin.

‘No continuation of the 16 weeks of rent assistance or acceleration of housing for flood-impacted communities, no jobs economic development program, no budget for fixing potholes or landslips, no river clean-up, and no school upgrades in the Lismore Electorate.

‘We need vision and planning… resources not rhetoric need to flow from the Treasurer,’ she said. 

‘We know that billions are being spent on reconstruction post the floods, but in terms of accessing permanent housing, there is nothing in the budget whatsoever for flood-affected families beyond temporary housing. More broadly we know that there are staff shortages across most small and medium businesses in the Ballina electorate and nothing in this budget will address what is key to that – no housing,’ said Ms Smith.

Wollongbar housing pods and caravans. Photo David Lowe.

Where’s the money for the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation?

Both members highlighted the lack of funding in the Budget for the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC). 

‘I can only hope that Queensland-style funding announcements will flow once the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation stands up from July 1, and it underlines the need for a NSW version of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority,’ said Ms Saffin. 

‘There really is an urgent need to secure a joint NSW-Commonwealth Flood Reconstruction Recovery Package and I’ve put forward suggestions at the highest levels based on my observations and advocacy since the flood.’

‘What was starkly missing for me was any reference to adaptation to future natural disasters,’ said Ms Smith. 

‘Let’s hope that the Reconstruction Corporation is given a budget before they kick off on July 1, so that we can actually see if adaptation and supporting people to prepare for future extreme weather events, is part of the remit.’

While Ms Saffin welcomed the confirmation of a $132.7-million investment in the State Emergency Service, particularly for a new Incident Control Centre in Lismore and a facility upgrade for Murwillumbah SES she said ‘the Murwillumbah community continued to be cheated because the Budget had nothing for a long-promised 24-hour police station for the town’.

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  1. Try not being sexist. You lost me in the first sentence.
    There are houses in places that are not in the Northern Rivers area. Stop building in a swap.


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