Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Tweed Mayor calls for expansion of housing schemes in wake of flood

Tweed Shire Mayor, Chris Cherry, has called for the immediate expansion of the Voluntary House Raising and Voluntary House Purchase schemes to mitigate against future social and economic impacts caused by flooding.

The Mayor made the plea while addressing members of the NSW Upper House Select Committee on the Response to Major Flooding across NSW in 2022, which met in Murwillumbah yesterday.

Mayor Cherry said an urgent expansion of the NSW Government’s voluntary house raising and voluntary house purchasing programs was required to provide certainty to residents affected by the recent flood.

“The only way we are really going to move forward is to get people out of the flood plain and out of risk,” she said.

“We are desperately asking for the Voluntary House Raising and Voluntary House Purchase programs to be given significant funding – and immediately.

“The time is now, people are making decisions now whether to reinvest in their properties or not. We are calling for urgent consideration from government on this.”

The Mayor made her comments as she tabled Council’s submission to the separate NSW Independent Flood Inquiry 2022, which was unanimously endorsed at the last Council meeting.

The report makes 15 recommendations to the NSW Government, including that housing schemes be urgently reviewed to determine whether their eligibility can be expanded to apply to a greater number of residents.

The report further called on the State Government to significantly lift its funding for the schemes to $300 million in the first year and $200 million in the second year to make a meaningful difference to the effectiveness of the programs.

Members of the NSW Upper House Select Committee on the Response to Major Flooding across NSW in 2022 travelled to Murwillumbah to meet with the community this week.

Other recommendations in Council’s flood inquiry report include:

Warning systems: a review of forecasting warning systems to account for projected changes to weather patterns and intensities, as well as community education in relation to warning systems.

First responders: consideration be given to merge the SES, Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue Service into one overall emergency response agency that works collaboratively with police, for resourcing to support paid SES personnel, and funding for the upgrade of emergency evacuation centres.

Communication and electricity networks: creating more resilient networks to ensure radio, mobile phone and NBN/broadband services are maintained in disaster events.

Flood mitigation: increased investment in flood mitigation schemes such as the voluntary house purchase and raising schemes, a review of the Murwillumbah CBD levee and drainage study and enhancement of the Murwillumbah CBD levee and pump systems.

Funding and procurement: better coordination and consolidation of disaster grant funding programs, provision of greater clarity and flexibility for tendering procurement for emergency procurement in response to natural disasters.

Planning reforms: implementation by the NSW Government of a local housing strategy support team to work with councils; reducing the number of people living in high flood prone areas.

Roads: A review of the flood immunity of the Pacific Motorway (M1) at Chinderah, including the restriction of emergency access and supplies to the region when it is cut.

Community: Enable councils to fund and support community resilience plans that build a culture of preparedness and resilience, including education around flood warnings and river levels.

State natural disaster management plans: regular update of plans outlining the State’s role when it comes to disaster management, including in relation to temporary housing plans post-event; and for grant funding announcements to be made within 24 hours of the declaration of a disaster and for that to be distributed equally to all areas within that declaration.

The report was strongly endorsed by the Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association, during their presentation to the Upper House Select Committee.

Council is encouraging residents, businesses and community organisations in the Tweed to contribute to both the independent Flood Inquiry and the Upper House Select Committee.

The deadline for submissions to the independent Flood Inquiry has been extended to Friday 24 June 2022. For more information, visit www.nsw.gov.au/floodinquiry.

Submissions to the Upper House Select Committee have closed but responses to its online questionnaire are open until 30 June. For more details, visit www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/listofcommittees/Pages/committee-details.aspx?pk=277

Latest Articles