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Byron Shire
March 22, 2023

Byron Councillors call for more govt flood funding

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2022 flooding aftermath in Mullumbimby

Byron Shire Council has launched a pre-election call for more government funding and support to future proof all of the Shire’s flood-impacted premises.

In an attempt to capitalise on the current state government ‘promise spree’, the Council has written to NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet, Opposition Leader, Chris Minns, and all local candidates for the seats of Ballina and Lismore.

The letter calls on the leaders to ‘recognise the opportunities… to make all existing flood-prone buildings safer against future flood risks’ through buybacks, house-raising and wet-proofing.

It expresses gratitude for the $800M the government has already committed to achieve these goals region-wide, and asks for an additional $180M for the Shire itself to make premises ‘more resilient’.

The figure is based on an average of $100,000 per building, plus an additional $35M for buybacks.

It also asks the government to recognise that ‘many of Byron Shire’s premises can be returned to habitable use through house-raising, because ‘peak flood levels on the Shire’s floodplains are not as deep as on some other heavily impacted floodplains’.

‘This does not look after the grief, nor does it replace losses,’ Greens Councillor Duncan Dey told last week’s Council meeting while moving the motion in relation to the letter. 

‘It’s about making things better in the future.’

‘I’m asking that all flooded premises, and there are 6,500 of them [for the whole region]… should be told that there will be funding coming to them if they’re eligible. That’s really what this motion is about.’

‘The money needs to start rolling as quickly as possible.’

The motion was passed unanimously, though some councillors did express doubt has to what effect it would have.

Earlier, during the public access section of the meeting, Susan Fell from the Mullum Flood Recovery Action group, spoke about the plight of Mullum locals, such as herself, whose homes had sustained serious damage during the floods.

‘My house is a slab and a roof, and I’ve been in temporary accommodation since then. Recently I’ve been meeting with other elderly residents, most of them women, who are in a state of despair and uncertainty – trying desperately to move forward with the process of rebuilding and retrofitting,’ Ms Fell said.

‘Some are waiting for insurance scopes of works, others are waiting for determinations from the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Commission as to whether they can raise or retrofit their houses – the decision [appears to be] based on funding [availability].

‘Some have just found the whole thing way too much, so they’ve packed up and sold their houses for rock-bottom prices, well below the market rate, and left our community altogether’.

‘For many others, they’re just waiting – overwhelmed, traumatised and homeless.’

‘We’re in a state of limbo – it’s a time of great uncertainty’. 

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