Flood Corporation withered – now we hope FloodCorp3 will provide serious relief

The cast of characters featured in the NSW flood recovery, from bottom left and clockwise- NRRC’s David Witherdin, NSW Reconstruction Authority’s Simon Draper, pic of flood in Woodburn, Premier Chris Minns, former premiers Gladys Berejiklian and Dominic Perottet.

Susanna Freymark

It is the end of the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation.

From Tuesday, October 31, the NRRC will be dissolved and its assets, rights and liabilities transferred to the NSW Reconstruction Authority.

This is hardly a surprise – the merger of the NRRC into the NSW Reconstruction Authority in June this year was the beginning of the end for the ill-fated and ill-feted organisation.

The Gladys Berejiklian Coalition government replaced the Office of Emergency Management with Resilience NSW, headed by Shane Fitzsimmons.

It was established on May 1, 2020, after the horrific 2019–20 bushfires.

After the February-March 2022 floods, an independent flood inquiry recommended dismantling Resilience NSW.

It was ineffectual in dealing with the flood disaster – so just like that – it was gone.

After Resilience NSW was put out of its misery, Dominic Perrottet’s Coalition government launched the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation in April 2022.

The NRRC was supposed to do what its predecessor hadn’t. Perrottet announced the NRRC with the promise of fast-tracking the flood recovery in the Northern Rivers.

It didn’t fast-track anything.

NRRC chief executive David Witherdin promised much and delivered little apart from confusion and frustration.

David Witherdin at a community meeting in Woodburn earlier this year. Photo: Susanna Freymark

The promise of 6000 homes getting a buyback, house raising or retrofit was suddenly slashed to fewer than 1500 homes in June this year.

The NSW Reconstruction Authority head Simon Draper said the NRRC had got the figures wrong.

The Chris Minns Labor government set up the Reconstruction Authority in November 2022. The NRRC was “merged” into it.

This merger meant there would be a “focus on flood recovery and reconstruction in the Northern Rivers strengthened by the scope, capabilities, and capacity of the Reconstruction Authority”, the Authority promised.

Unfortunately, flood-impacted residents have heard all this before.

When State ministers Paul Scully and Jihad Dib visited Woodburn on July 11 with the promise of a ‘reset’ on the flood recovery, it was met with scepticism by locals.

One resident said to them, “We don’t give a bugger what they’re called” about the name change for the flood recovery organisation.

Sums it up.

Back then, and still now, residents want action. Not more paperwork, not another name change to a flood recovery organisation – they want action.

Since the floods, IndyNR.com has struggled to get information about buybacks and flood recovery actions in Richmond Valley and Kyogle from all of these government organisations.

The Reconstruction Authority promised communication would be better.

For the most recent IndyNR article on how the flood recovery and buybacks were affecting Woodburn, we tried to get straight answers from the Authority’s media department.

No such luck. The Authority’s response was the usual non-answer and we are still no clearer on what is happening. If anything.

Despite the NRRC’s impending death, its website has no mention that it will vanish in a few days.

What has it cost to set up each of these three organisations? We’d like to tell you but that would require transparency from the current and previous state governments.

And the facts are likely to ignite more despair and anger from residents who want a financial hand to get their homes back and flood-ready.

Read all our flood stories here.

Woodburn in flood. Photo: Contributed

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