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NSW Flood Inquiry: Government support for Local Councils

NSW Flood Inquiry: Government support for Local Councils


Key recommendations from the Inquiry include:

  • Land buy-backs
  • Increase investment in flood mitigation and preparation
  • Harness local knowledge and networks
  • Build back better
  • Alternative Routes

NSW flood inquiry report

Council areas affected from the floods in 2022 have welcomed the release of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry’s report on the Response to Major Flooding Across NSW in 2022.

The Inquiry received 87 written submissions from various stakeholders, including Councils, Community Groups, charities, and individuals.  During the Inquiry public hearings were held in various locations in Windsor and the Northern Rivers region, at these hearings witnesses were able to make verbal statements to the Inquiry and respond to questions.  These written submissions and the statements made during the hearings were taken into account by the Inquiry in formulating the Recommendations which the Government will now consider.

Was the NSW Government prepared for the 2022 NSW floods?

It is well known that the February-March floods caused widespread destruction and devastation in the Macarthur, Hawkesbury, and Northern Rivers regions.  The inquiry found that during these floods the emergency services and NSW Government agencies were unprepared.

NSW flood inquiry recommendations

Of significant importance the inquiry found that local councils, such as those in the Northern Rivers region will need support to rectify and address the damage caused by the floods.  Wide ranging recommendations were made by the Inquiry to ensure communities are better prepared and able to respond to extreme weather events in future.

Key recommendations include:

  • Land buy-backsThe inquiry recommends flood plains be treated by the NSW government as assets – including conversion to sports grounds and gardens – that specialise in uses “that are productive and minimise risk to life”.Should the NSW Reconstruction Authority be established, their priority should be to migrate people off the highest-risk areas through a significantly expanded land swap and voluntary house purchase scheme.  Priority in such a scheme should be given to the most vulnerable community members.
  • Increase investment in flood mitigation and preparationSuch investment would be used to support local councils to investment in flood mitigation and preparation by increasing ongoing, long-term funding and access to technical guidance and assistance for local councils and ensuring that land-use planning and development takes a risk-based approach;
  • Harness local knowledge and networksNSW Government should consider a restructure of the NSW State Emergency Service to shift the focus to harnessing local knowledge and networks to enable better preparations in the vent of further flood events or other natural disasters
  • Build back betterThe eligibility to access Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements should be widened to allow local councils greater access to support and funds to allow local councils to build back better.
  • Alternative RoutesNSW Government and local councils should work together to identify alternative routes to vulnerable roads.  With the assistance of the NSW and Australian Governments these alternative routes should be constructed to improve evacuation and access options in times of disaster; and

Local Government NSW President Darriea Turley said it was essential that the NSW Government act on the inquiry’s key recommendations to ensure councils are well-positioned to manage any extreme weather events that may occur in the future.  If these recommendations and others are adopted, it will allow communities to be better prepared for future disasters.

Government Response to major flooding across NSW in 2022

The Government’s response to the Inquiry’s Final Report is due in early November 2022.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact Coutts Lawyers.
1300 268 887

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