We don’t give a bugger what they’re called — locals want flood recovery action

ABOVE: Minister Jihad Dib speaks with supermarket owner Tania Hundy and farmer Tony Carusi at the Woodburn SES unit.

Susanna Freymark

A small number of locals were invited to meet with state ministers at the Woodburn SES building today, Tuesday, July 11.

Minister for Planning Paul Scully and Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib were on a whirlwind tour of the Northern Rivers to find out what is needed to ‘reset’ the flood recovery funding.

Tania Hundy asked about financial help to get the Woodburn supermarket up and running. 

Lyndall Murray is organising the Hands and Hearts project and made a plea for the government to support the community. 

Tony Carusi from the Northern Rivers Flood Action Group asked about flood mounds for cattle.

Bianca Rayner from the Coraki Hub wanted to know about funding for non-government organisations.

Mr Dib said they were there to listen. 

He had visited the Northern Rivers eight times previously so he was unlikely to hear anything new.

And residents are tired of talk — they need action.

Mr Dib said he had been a minister for only three months.

“We recognise the problem. We need a reset,” he said.

Premier Chris Minns has used the word ‘reset’ for the flood recovery.

When pressed on a timeline for this ‘reset’, neither Mr Scully nor Mr Dib could provide details.

State MP Janelle Saffin said it would be at least a month before we find out what the ‘reset’ will involve. 

Mr Dib said they were in Woodburn and later Coraki and Lismore to listen and take back flood stories to their colleagues.

“Things need to be done differently,” he said.

“We don’t want to cut the community out of the recovery.”

Mr Carusi said since the flood the community had stepped up.

“We’ve done everything we can, we need some heavy lifting,” he said.

“The government needs to do that.”

The recovery from the 2022 flood will take five to six years, Mr Carusi said.

He urged the ministers to sort out funding and sort out the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation.

“We don’t give a bugger what they’re called,” he said.

He wanted Mr Dib to look at the flood reserves and making them stock-proof for cattle.

“I lost 100 head,” Mr Carusi said.

“There are local flood reserves — some haven’t had fencing done for 50 years,”

Ms Murray told the ministers about a 78 year old man dying of cancer who was still living in a donga because of the flood damage to his home.

“We need you to step up,” Ms Murray said.

“We need people back in their homes.”

Ms Hundy said she needed a loan of $1million from the government so she could condense her loans and have a two-year period before repaying the loan.

Ms Hundy has a floodproof plan for rebuilding the IGA in Woodburn using movable concrete panels.

That part of the resilient upgrade costs $200,000.

“How do we make it happen?” Mr Dib said.

“I can’t guarantee anything but we’ll look into the barriers and see if we can get the barriers removed.”

After the NRRC debacle and false hope for residents thinking that would get help for retrofits, house-raisings or buybacks, action from the State Government is needed.

There has been enough listening and talking — surely the governments knows the flood stories from our region 17 months after the floods.

State MP Richie Williams said, “this is not about politics”.

To be fair, he meant party politics, it doesn’t matter who is in power, support for those impacted by floods is needed now.

Unfortunately it is about politics. The political will of Mr Minns and his ministers could mean everything to the town of Woodburn and others just like it who live with the physical and emotional damage from the flood every day.

Richmond Valley mayor Robert Mustow with Janelle Saffin at the Woodburn meeting. Photos: Susanna Freymark

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