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Byron Shire
March 3, 2024

Lismore Council votes against planning support motion for flood impacted residents

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At Tuesday’s Council meeting in Lismore Councillor Adam Guise moved a motion that Council hold a public briefing identifying existing and potential planning mechanisms that support flood-impacted residents to rebuild or relocate post-flood. 

Councillor Guise’s notes said that flood-impacted residents have been left in limbo post-flood, and have encountered challenges rebuilding, retrofitting or relocating their homes post-flood. ‘Residents who accept buybacks require affordable options to relocate their homes, with exempt or complying development pathways to facilitate this. 

‘Covenants that restrict the types of houses that can be moved to new housing estates are an impediment to facilitating relocations. Residents who don’t accept buybacks or who don’t have this option, should have safe options for remaining in their homes. 

Identifying and advocating for planning mechanisms

‘Council should be identifying and advocating for planning mechanisms that facilitate flood recovery in order to enable impacted residents to relocate or continue to live safely in their homes. 

‘Mechanisms such as providing complying development pathways, waiving DA fees or subsidising flood-friendly retrofits could facilitate a safer, more equitable and speedier flood recovery. 

Cr Adam Guise said he had spoken on some of these issues in the chamber and since the flood, particularly in consideration of us amending our development control plans. ‘I have also made inquiries with staff about how we can support flood-impacted residents. 

Grateful for the staff

‘I am grateful for the staff and thank them for their more detailed response to some of the issues raised and that goes some way to demonstrating the sort of information that I’m hoping our community can get from holding a public briefing about this issue.’

Councillor Guise said that staff did agree to having a type of housing Expo. ‘I raised this as an issue nearly 12 months ago to get a sort of round table of people talking about technological solutions and planning solutions to recover from the flood. ‘Unfortunately, here we are nearly 18 months on and that hasn’t happened yet and I’m thankful it is going to happen, but boy, a lot of people have suffered needlessly, in the meantime. 

Cr Guise said these are the sorts of things that we should be identifying, rather than putting out white papers within a few months of the flood that say depopulate north and south Lismore. ‘I find these unhelpful and unconstructive. We need to have a mature conversation about safely getting off the floodplain. 

Talking about vision and planning processes

‘We need to be talking about vision and planning processes to safely relocate our community over a period of time, that doesn’t just leave it to the free market. The free market has unequivocally failed in the housing space and we need to be proactive in making our planning system work for us, rather than working for developers or the big end of town. 

‘So I’m hoping councillors will support this. I’m hoping our community can attend and hear this and get questions answered about how to recover equitably and fairly.’

Cr Vanessa Ekins said she supported the idea of a public briefing. ‘There is a lot of confusion out in the community about what plan, who has planning responsibilities, what the planning legislation actually enables people to do and what the role of council is, as opposed to the Reconstruction Authority and the state government. 

‘I think it’d be really worthwhile exploring them and putting that information out.’

Walker failed to implement motion

Cr Guise had moved a motion last year about an expo-type event which even against some opposition, got up. The General Manager at the time, John Walker, failed to implement any action and any plans have been waiting side stage.

Councillor Electra Jensen said she thought an expo was a great idea. ‘Thank you to the council for organising it. I think it’s brilliant.’

Though councillors seemed to like the idea of a public event, and though no one spoke against Councillor Guise’s motion, the voting went as expected with support from Councillors Guise, Bird, and Ekins – those voting against, were Councillors Colby, Gordon, Hall, Jensen, Bing, Rob and Krieg.

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  1. Yep. Thats what they do. Very disrespectfully say nothing and vote against it, unless its one of their mates putting up a motion. And Krieg talks about respect, even though he doesnt listen to or reply to council staff, and rarely discusses issues himself. Sometimes Andrew Gordon attacks anyone a bit left of Mussolini, but the others are just voting vegetables. They know how to raise their hand, but thats about it.

    • Voting vegetables! That is such an apt description Trev. They are not at all proactive or engaged, just pop the hand up when required.

  2. It is time that the members of this council are removed. State government action is required. There self serving attitudes and greed is perpetuating the suffering of those who were affected by the flood. They simply don’t care that these people are unable to get on with their lives.

  3. I’m constantly baffled by what they vote against. They supported the roundtable motion last year! Krieg backflips whenever it’s politically (ie. visible to the populist media) convenient – such as he did a few months back suddenly going from ‘Lismore needs a benevolent dictator’ to – ‘Lismore needs local leadership’ when the entire community were up in arms about the disastrous maps the NRRC put out and so on. Yet where is his leadership on these matters? His ‘leadership’ is only self and mates interested, from what I can see. It’s all about how it looks on the surface, with nothing of substance aside from his substantial business interests. Recent things I’ve read said from Janelle Saffin and the CEO of NSWRA seem to imply some buck-passing and that now they’re waiting for local councils to take the lead. They (we) may be waiting for some time. Thanks Adam for keeping on trying.


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