CELEBRATION: Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, announces funding for the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club for a new storage shed and gymnasium. Also pictured are surf club president Craig Nowlan (left) and Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, Ben Franklin MLC.
CELEBRATION: Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, announces funding for the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club for a new storage shed and gymnasium. Also pictured are surf club president Craig Nowlan (left) and Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, Ben Franklin MLC. Graham Broadhead

Premier in town: Poor waterway health in spotlight

THE Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, wasn't aware of the poor state of the Richmond River - but she is now.

The Premier made a quick visit to Ballina yesterday to grant an extra $15,000 on top of $15,000 previously announced to fit out a new storage shed for the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club at Lighthouse Beach.

But with yet another public meeting in Ballina this evening on the poor health of the river, the Premier was asked what the State Government could be doing to improve the waterway which is rated one of the worst in NSW.

She admitted she wasn't aware of the problem, and chipped Ballina MP, Tamara Smith from the Greens, for not raising the issue with her.

Ms Smith fired back saying there was a National Party member for 27 years in Ballina and it's "disturbing" the Premier has not heard of the health of the river because it's been an issue for decades.

But Ms Berejiklian said she now would look into the issues surrounding the health of the river.

"Clean waterways are a priority for the government," she said.

Meanwhile, president of the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club, Craig Nowlan, said the $30,000 the State has granted the club - funding secured by Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast Ben Franklin MLC - would see work start on the storage shed and gymnasium in the next few weeks.

He said another $50,000 was needed to see the project through to completion by paying for things like extra toilets and showers, and interior tiling.

He said he hoped some work could be done in-kind volunteer members of the surf club, and also hoped businesses could make further donations.

In her first trip to the Northern Rivers since she visited after the March floods, Ms Berejiklian will cover a lot ground in her two days in the region taking in the areas of Murwillumbah, Casino, Ballina and Lismore.

Today, Ms Berejiklian's duties will include a visit to Southern Cross University for the launch of the Enterprise Lab, an announcement at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange at Casino and then an afternoon tea with more than 100 attendees at the Casino RSM Club.



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