NSW Flood Inquiry – Report is now public!

The NSW Select Committee into the Response to Major Flooding 2022 issued its final report to the Premier at the end of July with the report made publicly available yesterday (10 August 2022). Having skimmed through the findings and recommendations section, we note that only one finding and a handful of recommendations relate directly to housing and land use planning, despite the initial terms of reference having specific ambit for these matters.

Disappointingly and in contrast to the many submissions in support of such a call, no specific increase to long-term social housing stock numbers for affected LGAs were recommended in the report.

There has been some interest in the media recently about land swaps and buy-back schemes, but as this article from Sydney Morning Herald highlights, the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation may only fund and target a relatively small proportion of the most at-risk homes in Lismore through a voluntary buy-back scheme. Tweed Shire Council has an existing Voluntary Home Purchasing Program for high-flood risk homes in its LGA, partly funded by the State Government on a rolling basis. The Program acknowledges that not every high-risk home will be funded for buy-back in a predictable timeframe, due to the year-by-year grant funding arrangement with NSW Department of Planning & Environment.

There is a huge role that both State and Federal governments must play in funding buy-back schemes and ensuring significant rebuild efforts include social and affordable rental housing in safer parts of affected towns and suburbs.