Mayor reeling after Byron Bay miss out on emergency payouts
BYRON Shire Council has been left reeling after residents in its flood-devastated townships missed out on emergency payments from the Federal Government.
Billinudgel, The Pocket, Main Arm, South Golden Beach, New Brighton, Mullumbimby, Ocean Shores and Brunswick Heads residents were evacuated for days, lost homes and cars.
The towns were declared Natural Disaster Zones, however the government has yet to trigger $1000-adult and $400-child payments through the Disaster Recovery Program to anyone outside Lismore and Murwillumbah councils.
Other services and financial assistance is available, such as $130,000 interest-free business loans, but Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson says funds must flow to those devastated, now.
"Although the shire as a collective hasn't been hit as badly as Lismore and Tweed, certain areas and residents within our shire have been left devastated," Mayor Richardson said.
"It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to look out of a helicopter and see that there is going to be individuals who are going to require relief and you would've thought that that would've been the default position."
Richmond Federal MP Justine Elliot said she's lobbying for residents, but State and Federal Governments must work together to collate evidence before eligibility can be approved.
"I'm demanding that both the Prime Minister and the NSW Premier deliver major funding to rebuild the north coast by activating Category C funding through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements," Mrs Elliot said.
"I'm really disappointed they have haven't activated it because there are people in those areas which are in desperate need."
"It is purely incompetence that the State and Federal Government are moving so slowly; I really don't think they were very well ready for it, like in Queensland."
Category C assistance can provide recovery grants for small businesses and primary producers and or the establishment of a Community Recovery Fund.
Ballina Shire Council has not received reports from residents or businesses seeking financial assistance for flood damage.
"Ballina Shire Council is making representations to members of parliament and the recovery coordinator for the commonwealth declaration to be applied to Ballina, as is the case with Lismore and Tweed," a spokesperson said.
Those eligible for the one-off emergency payments should ring: 1802266.
Individuals should contact Disaster Welfare Services on 1800 018 444 and Businesses and Primary producers should contact the Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593.