STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin wants the NSW Government to provide targeted financial support packages to better help Northern Rivers commercial and residential landlords rebuild from the February 2022 flood.
Contacted by an increasing number of desperate landlords, Ms Saffin has taken up their plight with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, Deputy Premier Paul Toole, and NSW Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience, and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke.
Ms Saffin said it was essential that the NSW Government put in place a high level of appropriate support for commercial and residential landlords to match the Government’s commitment to ‘build back better’.
“We need to be encouraging landlords to stay and invest in the region as they are a vital aspect of our survival and recovery and help to provide the necessary infrastructure Lismore, Murwillumbah and other towns need in order to prosper again,” Ms Saffin said.
“Landlords affected by the floods who are under-insured or uninsured find themselves unable to access sufficient funding or support and are being hindered from being able to rebuild and reopen their premises after the floods.
“While residential landlords may have access to $15,000 made available through the Back Home Grant, this amount is not enough to repair the extensive damage to their properties.
“And commercial landlords appear to not be eligible for any grants or funding.
“Some of these landlords own buildings under Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSF), and I have advocated that grant eligibility needs to be blind as to business structure, as it is the damage from the flood event as declared.”
Ms Saffin cited a meeting hosted by Business NSW in late March to identify the specific needs of commercial landlords in the region, from which a raft of urgent recommendations went to the Director of Regional NSW and the NSW Government.
However, there has yet to be an announcement or any indication of the Government’s intention to offer support to commercial landlords to assist with flood recovery, Ms Saffin noted.
The recommendations were:
- The imperative to instill business and landholder confidence as soon as possible by:
- Retaining anchor businesses (both national and local)
- Communicating the vision and timeframes for any changes that impact investment (e.g. relocations, buy backs and planning or regulatory requirements)
- Getting serious about an insurance scheme that protects businesses and landlords on future events
- Establishing a team that will lead the longer term recovery and reimagining of the City (Lismore) to ensure an integrated approach with the CSIRO report and other proposals/reports.
- Financial and coordination assistance to secure safe and habitable commercial premises by:
- Unlocking current funding support for landlord access (to assist with upcoming rates for landlords with no rental income)
- Creating new funding support packages to enable faster repairs to building infrastructure
- Establishing a coordinated approach to works/trades/materials that can be shared and funded to reduce the overall financial impact of the weather event.
Ms Saffin has reiterated Business NSW’s recommendations and called on the Government to reconsider its current funding packages so that they can be broadened to include commercial and residential landlords, which are vital to the region’s recovery efforts.
She also provided the Government with examples of correspondence from landlords in the region seeking assistance, together with further case studies included in the Business NSW submission.