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Byron Shire
June 23, 2024

‘Real’ estate?

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So let’s say the first stage of a controversial residential development like the one at West Ballina has been completed. Today is open house and a prospective new home buyer asks the real estate agent: ‘Since this is actually a wetland basin, does it actually flood here?’ I wonder what his reply might be to help clinch the sale?

The only ‘honest’ one I could imagine would run like this: ‘Yes, but it shouldn’t flood “our” complex though, because “we think” we’ve raised it to a pretty “safe” level. Only the surrounding houses and streets “below” will cop it.

‘Sure, you may get marooned for a couple of weeks, but if necessary we should be able to get a helicopter in for a food drop, since the adjoining shops will also be inundated and out of action as well. Also, the relevant authorities are now “hopeful” that next time, the electricity supply won’t be cut off throughout West Ballina for the duration (14 days last time) and the internet access we need to advise our loved ones of our safety, won’t this time go down. You “should” be as safe as a bank!

‘Actually you’ll be able to watch the whole “show” in your deck chair from an elevated grandstand perspective, sipping on a cocktail in your bikini, waving to the television nightly news crew circling above. (I wouldn’t wear the teeny weeny yellow poker dot “number” though, you know what those television cameramen are like!)

‘It’ll be bigger than Ben Hur! There’ll be lifesavers in rubber duckies ferrying crying survivors across what was yesterday’s local road network; soldiers cramming the disabled and the elderly (in stretchers) with their stinking mud-coated canine pets into army camouflaged aqueduck-trucks, and the SES wading through those muddy waters, kicking in doors and gyprock walls to ensure no bodies are left floating upside down in their now “fishbowl homes”.

‘Another bonus, you won’t need to shell out for flood insurance either, (even if you were able to get it with the now exorbitant fees applicable to our postcode, regardless of your actual position), because man, if it actually “does” come into “your” backyard, they may as well delete Ballina from Google Maps anyway! (It’s all over!)

‘Otherwise though, this house is very nicely fitted out, don’t you think? So, would you like to sign here on the dotted line now, or watch and wait a few days, with those predicted “king” tides starting up tonight, and on top of all that heavy rain we’ve had recently?’

You know, I don’t think I would have made a lot of money in the real estate game myself!

Laurence Johnstone, West Ballina


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