LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin last week renewed her call for the NSW Government to help Norco rebuild its flood-damaged South Lismore ice-cream factory by topping up financial assistance and granting a three-year holiday from payroll tax.
Ms Saffin confirmed she had written to Deputy Premier Paul Toole, NSW Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke and NSW Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders, going into bat for Norco’s more than 230 employees, local dairy farmers and smaller businesses who rely on the co-operative.
This follows earlier representations Ms Saffin made to NSW Treasurer Matt Kean and Minister Saunders in early April. She also raised the issue with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.
“I’m asking the NSW Government to consider supplementing the Commonwealth’s Category D Anchor Business Support Grant Program (the Anchor Fund) so that Norco can access sufficient funds to rebuild its factory,” Ms Saffin said.
“I’m also asking the Government to grant Norco a three-year holiday from payroll tax as part of that package, which could provide an estimated $12 million in relief over that period.
“The impact of the February 28 2022 flood on our city is extreme; we are living as internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“I have been in contact with Norco CEO Michael Hampson and have met with union representatives (from the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union and Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union), and I am advocating again for the employees whose lives have been shattered and who are dogged by uncertainty.
“These workers did wonderful community work by being deployed to work in recovery across our city, supported with a $6-million allocation from the Anchor Fund to allow their wages to be paid.
“I am very concerned for the workers, the majority of whom could be stood down within weeks, and no-one wants to see Norco leave town as the co-op is such a part of the fabric of our lives.”
Ms Saffin said she had briefed the new Federal Minister for Emergency Management and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Murray Watt on Norco’s situation.
“The Anchor Fund, which lacked any real clarity under the former Federal government, now has greater transparency because Minister Watt has issued the guidelines under which the program is to be administered by New South Wales.”