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Lismore locals baffled as flood-prone city is left off priority funding list

Saturday November 13, 2021 - 03:25 AEDT
ABC image
Lismore from the sky in April 2017. The city has suffered heavy flooding on several previous occasions. - ABC

Questions are being asked about how Australia's most flood-prone city could be left off a list of priority locations for natural disaster resilience funding.

A Commonwealth scheme, Preparing Australian Communities, this week released a list of priority local government areas for grants of up to $10 million.

The first round of grants will focus on projects to improve the resilience of communities against bushfires, flood and tropical cyclones.

But Lismore and Tweed, which were devastated by the Cyclone Debbie floods in 2017, are not on the list of priority locations, despite neighbouring Byron, Ballina and Clarence Valley shires listed as local government areas at risk of flood.

Richard Trevan, from the Lismore Citizens Flood Review, said optimism about National Recovery and Resilience Agency programs had turned to disbelief.

"Once again we've been overlooked, so we're somewhat confused and certainly disappointed," he said.

Mr Trevan said it was hard to fathom how Lismore could not be at the top of any list about flood risks in Australia.

"We've had 130 floods in 150 years of official flood records, which means something in the order of a flood about every 14 months."

'It's crazy'

Nationals MP Kevin Hogan, whose federal electorate Page includes Lismore, said the omission did not make sense.

"It's crazy that they did not get included," he said.

"Lismore in particular and the Tweed got devastated by flood events.

"It needs to change, and I'll be doing everything I can to get those LGAs put in." 

Labor's member for the adjoining electorate of Richmond, which covers the Tweed Shire, has also criticised the time frame for funding applications under the scheme, which opens on December 10 and closes on January 6.

Justine Elliot said local communities needed more time to prepare their submissions.

"They need more time, and to do that over the Christmas period is, quite frankly, incredibly rude," she said.

 "It's just ignoring the needs of the north coast. 

"We desperately need to have federal government funding to assist us, to make sure we're as resilient as we can to be facing these disasters."

National Recovery and Resilience Agency coordinator-general Shane Stone has promised to visit Lismore to hear local concerns.

He said areas not on the priority list were not being excluded.

"There are other funds that they can tap into," Mr Stone said.

"Preparing Australia has got to be shared across cyclones, bushfires and floods, whereas the National Flood Mitigation Infrastructure Program ... is exclusively about floods.

"But I tell you what I'll do ... I'll come to Lismore, and I'll spend the month down in NSW looking at these projects and meeting with these groups, who do a terrific job."    


© ABC 2021

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