While the scale and destruction of the floods that have ripped through south-eastern Queensland and the Northern Rivers region of NSW is just beginning to be understood by the rest of the country, governments and officials have known for weeks just how bad these floods could get.
Now, a week after the drenching of the Northern Rivers, the community has said that they feel abandoned by the state as current support is not adequate to fix many of the ongoing issues, with basic needs like food, shelter, and a fresh supply of water going unmet.
More than 2000 homes and businesses in the region have been declared uninhabitable so far with estimates suggesting that two-thirds of the flood-affected homes in the town of Lismore will need to be demolished and rebuilt.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has said that no expense will be spared in the cleanup and recovery effort, giving a press conference today in which he announced that 5,000 Australian Defence Force personnel would be deployed across the region.
900 of those ADF members are set to arrive today, but for many local residents, the move is too little, too late.
“Everyone’s waiting for a knock on the door because authorities are coming over and telling people they’ve got 20 minutes to get all their belongings and get out because the place has been deemed uninhabitable,” she said.
“We don’t know what that means. We’re expecting my partner’s home to be in that same situation and we don’t know if it’s going to get demolished.”
While there is government support available, Lloyd has said that the $1000 one-off disaster payment is simply not enough to deal with the scale of the damage many have experienced.
The Federal Government have a $5 billion Emergency Disaster Response Fund, however, only $150 million of that has actually been set aside for disaster-mitigation projects and none of it has actually been spent. Here’s Shane Stone, Coordinator-General of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency responsible for managing the funds attempting to defend that fact on Sky News:
How can any flood victim have confidence in Shane Stone to lead the recovery when he won’t even admit his $4.8 billion disaster fund hasn’t spent a cent on disaster recovery in 3 years. He should go – today. pic.twitter.com/pXTkfG6qHb
— Senator Murray Watt (@MurrayWatt) March 4, 2022
Over the weekend, while many residents in the surrounding areas were coming to terms with impending homelessness and the loss of livelihood, Prime Minister Scott Morrison shared his reaction to the death of Aussie cricket legend Shane Warne. While the death is a tragedy, Morrison has yet to directly address the people of the Northern Rivers.
Not wanting to be seen to be doing nothing, the ADF was in the affected towns over the weekend. However, what they appeared to be doing was staging a photo shoot, rather than actually assisting, with shocked residents filming this clip:
The army's finally turned up in northern NSW but they're filming themselves emptying an already packed trailer of rubbish while 1000s need help, food and medicine
Photo ops, all the way down, under Morrison's watch
— Media Analyst (@MediaAnalystOz) March 6, 2022
The bizarre video was defended online by the ADF who said that they often “film activities to preserve lessons for future training, planning & conduct of similar operations.”
The photos soon made sense however when Morrison shared this to his Instagram page:
View this post on Instagram
“Over 69,000 disaster payments have now been paid by the Federal Government to support people impacted by these floods, totalling $83 million,” Morrison wrote.
Which is fine, however, the scale of the damage is estimated to be more than $240 million in NSW and over $1 billion in Queensland. It’s also a drop in the ocean for the near $5 billion that could be spent.
None of this is to say that the government won’t do more or won’t spend more, however, for many people living in Lismore and the surrounding areas, their government has failed them when they needed it most.