MP slams State’s ‘pathetic, little announcement’ on flood rebuild

ABOVE: State MP Janelle Saffin is the Member for Lismore. Photo: Contributed

Susanna Freymark

Pathetic — is how State MP Janelle Saffin described the State Government’s announcement about identifying landholders with sites to “build back better” after the floods.

Ms Saffin said she was “bitterly disappointed” with the government’s expressions of interest being sought for its Resilient Land Program.

“Our community members have been eagerly anticipating the announcement of the EOI process for buybacks, relocatables, voluntary land swaps and house-raising,” Ms Saffin said.

“They were not eagerly awaiting a landholder EOI process.

“After six months wait we get this pathetic little announcement.”

The government’s program to identify land in the Northern Rivers for potential future developments was part of a larger plan to build back more resilient communities, the announcement stated.

“We already know where the available land is. Landholders have been coming to me for the last six months identifying available sites and the government has this information,” Ms Saffin said.

“The government needs to get the machinery of government into gear. They can do it all together – call for the EOIs for buybacks, relocatable homes, house raising and land swaps now.”

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said she had spoken to hundreds of residents and business owners.

“I know today’s announcement has been eagerly anticipated because it is an important step towards recognising sites for future development,” Ms Cooke said.

Not so, according to Ms Saffin.

“I cannot comprehend their thinking.  Are we to wait another six months for action on housing options?” she said.

Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation chief executive David Witherdin said the EOI will consider factors such as location away from high-risk flood and bushfire prone areas, land larger than two hectares, and proximity to existing towns with planned and exisiting infrastructure including power, water, sewerage and communications.

“We don’t want to just build back anywhere, and a key consideration is ensuring residents can relocate to areas with existing community infrastructure and amenities, so they can start their lives afresh, not from scratch,” Mr Witherdin said.

State MP Chris Gulaptis, who is retiring at the State election in March, said it was a “major positive step forward in sustainable flood recovery”.

“This is part of a larger plan to build back more resilient communities – a plan that will also deal with retrofits, house raising and land buybacks,” Mr Gulaptis said.

To register interest, or for further information go to

Details about further recovery and rebuilding programs “will be announced soon”. have asked the NRRC for specific details about buybacks and when this will be happening. We are waiting on a reply.

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