New coordination body to lead Northern Rivers communities flood rebuilding effort

The NSW Government will establish a new body to lead the long-term reconstruction of flood impacted areas across northern NSW.

The Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC) will coordinate planning, rebuilding and construction work of essential services, infrastructure and housing across multiple government agencies to help people in the Northern Rivers communities to rebuild their homes and lives as quickly as possible.

The NRRC will have a long-term remit for reconstruction of flood-hit communities in the Northern Rivers, which will continue beyond the immediate response and recovery phase, which is being led by Resilience NSW.

The NRRC will sit within the Department of Regional NSW and report to the Deputy Premier. David Witherdin will lead the development corporation as CEO. Mr Witherdin currently leads Public Works Advisory and the Soil Conservation Service, and was previously the CEO of Local Land Services.

The NRRC will be supported by an advisory board consisting of local representatives, such as local members of parliament and mayors, as well as leaders in the community, ensuring local expertise and knowledge is at the core of the NRRC work.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the new corporation would lead a single, coordinated whole-of-government approach to the permanent recovery and rebuilding of communities across the Northern Rivers.

“The NSW Government is in this for the long haul. We will support the people of flood impacted communities, across the Northern Rivers, every step of the way,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We know the community needs certainty. We are working through recovery and we have an independent Inquiry underway that will hear from all of those impacted, from experts and the scientific community.

“The NRRC will be able to draw on the recommendations from the Inquiry and lead the long-term reconstruction work to build certainty for future generations.

“The rebuilding of Lismore and surrounding areas will require a united, effective and coordinated response to enable everyone in the community to plan for the future and get on with their lives, and that will be the driving responsibility of this new authority.”

The NRRC will have the power to work with councils to identify, prioritise and support projects that can rejuvenate communities within the Northern Rivers area, with a particular emphasis on housing and supporting social infrastructure.

The new body will also have the power to compulsorily acquire or subdivide land, speed up and fast-track the building of new premises and accelerate delivery of planning proposals through the Department of Planning and Environment. The insurance, construction and infrastructure sectors will be important contributors, alongside local government, industry, businesses and residents.

Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the NRRC would have broad and extensive powers to consult with the community and assist in making towns more resilient to future flooding events.

“The floods have had a devastating impact and the NSW Government will continue to provide assistance to enable the people of the Northern Rivers to get back on their feet,” Mr Toole said.

“As we transition from recovery and clean-up the focus will shift to how we can make the infrastructure and homes of the region more resilient in the event of future natural disasters.”

Resilience NSW will continue to be responsible for providing immediate relief resupplying impacted communities, restoring essential services, cleaning up properties and providing temporary accommodation in the short to medium terms. The NRRC’s work will extend beyond these timeframes with a three to five year remit.

The establishment of the NRRC will allow the NSW Government and local governments to respond and implement any relevant outcomes of the independent review and be a source of collaboration, coordination and long term strategic vision for the Northern Rivers.

The NRRC will work within and with the local government areas of Ballina, Byron Bay, Kyogle, Tweed, Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley and Lismore.

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