Ballina MP welcomes announcement of $800m for flood-hit residents


Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith MP, was with the Prime Minister and Premier this morning for the announcement of money for buy backs, house-raising, and flood-proofing that the community has been desperately waiting for.

"We welcome the news this morning of $800 million on the table to assist flood-affected residents in the most flood-prone areas to be administered by the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation," Ms Smith said.

"My office has had so many inquiries from residents in Main Arm and Mullumbimby asking about house-raising and flood-proofing since February and I am pleased to hear that $100,000 for house-raising and $50,000 for retrofitting will now available. What I don't know is who exactly in the Ballina electorate will qualify under the first tranche of funding – the 1-in-5-year flood-prone folk.

"Using flood vulnerability as the index for qualifying may have made more sense before the kind of extreme and severe weather and flood events that are becoming synonymous with global warming," Ms Smith said.

“When we hear politicians speaking about the February floods being one of the worst natural disasters in Australian history, and about historic amounts of taxpayers’ money being invested in reconstruction, we should be very concerned because this is not the end of the story; it is the beginning and we are not hearing much strategy about adaptation to future extreme weather events that we know are on the horizon.

"There is no possibility of betterment if you are living in a 15-plus metre flood zone," said Ms Smith. "We need to make sure that the case management for applicants is thorough as it's going to be a lot of process and whilst people who have already managed to get an assessment through the Flood Property Assessment Program don't need to register, I encourage anyone who was flood-affected and eligible to apply from Monday by accessing the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation website," Ms Smith said.

“I sincerely hope that we will see clear, fair and practical eligibility assessments because what we saw with the grant packages were individuals and businesses frustrated by the tons of paperwork, they had to submit only to be told that they were not eligible,” Ms Smith said.

"A very sad reality for people who take up buy backs is that even with pre-flood home values most will not be able to buy a home in the Northern Rivers and will be forced to leave the region. The government must ramp up efforts to buy land and offer affordable land relocation in the Northern Rivers lest we see a mass exodus of people from our community."