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Byron Shire
February 9, 2023

Editorial – Lessons from 2022

Latest News

Iron Gates development in Evans Head land owners go into administration – again

The Iron Gates development, that is on flood- and fire-prone land near Evans Head, has been fought by the community for over 30 years. The current company that owns the site, Goldcoral Pty Ltd whose director is Graeme Ingles, has now been placed into administration.

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Celebrating LOVE

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$5 million to improve Northern Rivers rural drainage systems

Damaged rural drainage systems will be cleaned out, repaired and fitted with mechanisms that will reduce the impacts of future flooding, thanks to the Australian and NSW governments’ $5 million Northern Rivers Drainage Reset Program.

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Corporate governance breaches

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As 2022 comes to a close, there’s a lot to unpack from a year in which the region experienced its worst flood and landslips in living memory. Large landslips still scar the hills west of the towns and villages, and three pod villages in Byron Shire, built without any transparency and proper process, are yet to be occupied.

For some, there’s still a lot of flood trauma to overcome.

For others, who are more inclined to ‘prep’ for such emergencies, it was a chance to step up and contribute.

Thankfully, the community supported each other throughout the flood emergency, and were there immediately for those struggling to clean a flood-damaged house, or to get food and supplies up into the hinterland, where roads had been cut off.

The role of authorities/administrators during this time was less inspiring, and continues to be so.

It took nearly a week for them to assist at the time of the flood. And when they did, it seemed ham-fisted and tone deaf to what was unfolding at the time. Yet the federal and state governments got one thing right – providing financial assistance was a lifesaver for many who lost, in some cases, everything.

Communications went down immediately at the time too, endangering lives and hampering rescue efforts. It later emerged that Telstra, who are the sole provider for many parts of the Shire, relied upon one transmission hub to service the North Coast. It was taken out by the storm. The reason they had such inadequate infrastructure was that there was no federal requirement to ensure communications are robust enough to survive heavy weather.  

In June, Mullum residents told the Independent Flood Inquiry that there was no Council disaster plan (something other councils have), and for many years, a lack of drainage maintenance of the town. Since then, there has been some drainage maintenance for Mullum, yet addressing the heavily silted Brunswick River is required in the long run if Mullum, Billinudgel, Ocean Shores, SGB and New Brighton are to be spared next time.

A NSW government press release this week says they have committed almost $200 million ‘in new funding to implement a number of the recommendations from the independent Flood Inquiry’.

It reads, ‘Key elements of the package are additional dedicated flood rescue vehicles… the ability to train an additional 2,350 personnel in flood rescue, support for volunteer initiatives, and increased funding to ensure seamless coordination of evacuation centres and emergency accommodation’.

Within the detailed announcement – some of which appears overdue and much needed – there was nothing in terms of equipping councils to future proof for the next ‘big one’.

As always, it’s the community who will step up.

The focus of governments is generally self-interest, not collective wellbeing. Self-interest breeds incompetence and tends to lead to bloated, ineffectual governance. Isn’t it good not to rely on governments, given how poorly they operate?

Here’s to a better year in 2023 🙂

Hans Lovejoy, editor

News tips are welcome: [email protected]


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