Saffin puts flood protection firmly on the agenda

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has put flood protection for business, industrial and residential areas of Lismore, Murwillumbah and Kyogle, together with natural flood mitigation measures, firmly on the agenda in State Parliament.

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has put flood protection for business, industrial and residential areas of Lismore, Murwillumbah and Kyogle, together with natural flood mitigation measures, firmly on the agenda in State Parliament.

Ms Saffin recently received a top-level briefing from the NSW State Emergency Service’s leadership team, who reported that they had implemented 34 of the 36 recommendations made in the wake of March 2017 floods which sadly took lives and devastated Central Business and Industry Districts, and residential areas of Lismore and Murwillumbah.

“NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York and Deputy Commissioner Daniel Austin also told me that the remaining two recommendations were in train and I thanked them for the seriousness with which they responded to consultant David Owens APM’s Independent Review of the Service’s Operational Response to the floods, released in July 2017,” Ms Saffin said.

“We were joined by a senior adviser to NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott MP. I thank the Minister for facilitating the meeting for me. 

“Mr Owens, who is a former Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Police Force, reflected in his report the disappointment of the business owners and the wider community’s concerns that we needed to take learnings from 2017 to better respond at agency and all levels to future flood events.

“I also acknowledge the Lismore Citizens’ Review group for its comprehensive submission that reflected direct and lived experience, and indeed the anger that many in our community felt.

“The group’s aim was to examine various aspects of the management of the flood from the community point of view and to recommend constructive structural and administrative changes to all relevant organisations. The submission was penned by Keith Alcock, Dr Ros Irwin OAM, Tony Madden, Peter Thorpe and Beth Trevan OAM.”

Ms Saffin said Commissioner York told her that they (SES leaders) plan to visit Lismore in the near future and will include a meeting with the Lismore Citizens’ Review representatives and other interested parties.

“This is very timely as there is a lot of activity going on and we need to be united and working together on achieving the right mix of flood mitigation measures for Lismore, Murwillumbah and Kyogle,” Ms Saffin said.

“I note that Lismore City Council last night (Tuesday, 10 November 2020) resolved to place on public exhibition for 28 days its Draft Lismore Floodplain Risk Management Study, and I urge business owners and residents to make submissions to inform this process.”

Ms Saffin said she would be asking the following questions in Parliament this week to keep the issue of flood protection firmly on the agenda:

Does the NSW Government have a comprehensive strategy for protecting Lismore and Murwillumbah’s Central Business and Industry Districts and residential areas from suffering a repeat of the devastating 2017 floods?

Does the NSW Government intend to give more property owners the opportunity to participate in the Voluntary House Raising Scheme and Voluntary Purchase Scheme by significantly increasing funding to make these schemes more available in floodprone communities like Lismore, Murwillumbah and Kyogle?

Ms Saffin said she had also lobbied NSW Minister for Water, Housing and Property Melinda Pavey MP for the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation’s Northern Rivers Watershed Initiative (NRWI) on behalf of my Electorate of Lismore to secure our water security for the future, improve the health of our river catchments, and promote natural flood mitigation strategies.

Over 10 to 15 years, the full NRWI project costs $150 million. However, Rous County Council has identified and planned shovel-ready headline projects worth up to $5 million that can be funded in the upcoming NSW Budget, Ms Saffin said.

The projects are:

  • Soil health improvement/soil conservation on macadamia farms ($500,000).
  • Riparian restoration and catchment revegetation ($2.5 million).
  • Redesigned floodplain drainage to meet contemporary standards ($1.5 million).
  • Natural flood mitigation (landscape hydration $500,000).

Wednesday, 11 November 2020.

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