NSW Premier Kristina Keneally made the trip to Grafton yesterday to inspect the devastation herself.
NSW Premier Kristina Keneally made the trip to Grafton yesterday to inspect the devastation herself.

Premier visits Clarence Valley

THE generosity of the Clarence Valley struck the Premier of New South Wales, Kristina Keneally, yesterday as she declared the Clarence Valley a natural disaster zone.

During her visit to the region, the Premier took the opportunity to view the floodwaters from the air and speak to residents.

“The impact on the community is significant, but what struck me in particular is that the residents here, even though they are facing this significant flood event, were constantly enquiring as to the status of the floods in Queensland,” Ms Keneally said.

“They wanted to know how our neighbours to the north are faring and they were relived to know that NSW was in a position to not only look after the needs of this community but to send additional support to Queensland.”

The many financial assistance packages that have been made available to the primary producers and small business owners of the Clarence Valley who have been affected by the floods were also drawn upon.

Grants of $15,000 will be made available to primary producers in our community as a part of the Category C Grants that were recently announced, as well as low-interest loans of up to $130,000.

The huge process that is involved with accessing this money was, however, a concern for the Premier.

“The issues around the low-interest loans are something that we are always willing to look at,” she said.

“Once the flood waters recede we will be in a much better position to know the scale of the effect on our primary producers, and particularly on the sugar cane crops in this area.

“The government does have a responsibility to ensure that the dollars do get to those who need them and qualify for them so there will be an application process, but we do want this money to flow as quickly as possible to these communities.”

The Natural Disaster Declaration for the area also means the costs of repairing the infrastructure damaged by the flood waters will not fall on Clarence Valley Council.

“The declaration allows council to claim back the money that they will need to spend to get their infrastructure back to the condition it was in before the flood events,” Ms Keneally said.

“What we will need to do as a state government is make a similar assessment for the RTA and the roads under their care and management. It is likely that there will be significant cost associated with this, though we are not yet in a position to put a dollar figure on it.”

Ms Keneally also stated that she will be working closely with insurance companies to ensure legitimate claims are honoured.

To register as a primary producer or a small business affected by the flood, head to www.raa.nsw.gov.au.

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