More questions than answers - NSW Flood Inquiry Today the Member for Ballina joined the NSW Premier in Lismore for the announcement of the release of the O'Kane/Fuller Flood inquiry report.
Tamara Smith MP, Member for Ballina said: "Our communities have been waiting for six months for some certainty around what went wrong and what is on offer in terms of land buybacks, land swaps, house raising, flood mitigation, and future adaptation."
"Unfortunately, the announcement today raised many more questions than answers and for many people what was flagged today brings them no closer to knowing what the future looks like."
"In terms of government response, the Premier is only accepting 6 of the recommendations by Professor O'Kane and Mick Fuller entirely, saying that more work needs to be done on twenty-two other recommendations. "
"How much longer will people in our communities have to wait for certainty and what is the timeline for delivering flood mitigation works before a possible 3rd La Nina event this summer?" Said Ms Smith "We welcome that buy backs will be on offer in the Northern Rivers through expressions of interest, but we have no criteria yet or any idea how many homes and how much money is on the table. People who have been waiting patiently for so many months to see whether they can move out of flood prone areas are no closer today to any certainty around their future prospects. This is incredibly disappointing." Said Ms Smith " I was pleased to hear Professor Mary O'Kane say that climate change played a role in the extreme weather events, in particular the volume of rain that caused the devastating floods in the Northern Rivers." Said Ms Smith " Adaptation measures and changes to the planning laws to stop people building their homes in the future in climate change vulnerable areas are very welcome recommendations in this report." Said Ms Smith " I'm disappointed not to hear more from the Premier about the lack of affordable housing in the Northern Rivers and a plan to tackle it, and the lack of mental health services in regions like ours. " Said Ms Smith Sue Higginson MP: Greens NSW Spokesperson for Emergency Services said, "The response to the NSW Flood Inquiry by the Government today offers no immediate reassurance to people that are still living the reality of the flood emergency".
The Report identifies the increasing risk from our rapidly changing climate and recognises that floods will become more frequent and more severe. However, we are not seeing the Government commit to addressing climate mitigation and adaptation as a necessary priority for all communities and developments that are at risk from riverine floods, fires and coastal flooding,"
"The alert issued this week by the Bureau of Meteorology that NSW will likely experience another La Nina this summer is chilling news for communities that are living with the ongoing impacts of the March floods. As a matter of priority we urge the Government to speed up the process of moving people out of harm's way through land swaps, buy-backs and relocations.