Speech: South Coast Floods

Speech: South Coast Floods Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (10:55): Our community on the New South Wales South Coast is the most beautiful place on earth but, boy, have my communities had it rough this year—unprecedented drought, never seen before bushfires, a global pandemic. In recent weeks, we have been hit again by flood. So far this year, my electorate on the South Coast has been hit by three disaster-declared floods. The first, in February, hit the town of Lake Conjola, which had barely begun recovering from the summer bushfires, a tough pill to swallow. Six months on and we have had two more in just two weeks, each flood seemingly worse than the last. Our community is no stranger to flood. It is something that local farmers just get on with, finding ways to adapt and adjust because that's just who they are.



But two weeks ago, the Shoalhaven experienced its worst flooding in 30 years. In just 24 hours, the Tallowa Dam lost 20 years' worth of Shoalhaven water usage; that is how much water spilled over the side. Flooding was felt from Kiama to Nowra, Sussex Inlet, Moruya, Deua and more. Once again, local communities were forced to flee their homes, something that has been all too common this year. In the immediate aftermath of these floods, I contacted the minister, requesting assistance through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. It was clear early on that the impact would be widespread and it was. While I was pleased to see loans and other support made available for small businesses, primary producers and community organisations, I remain disappointed that the government has not yet made the Disaster Recovery Payment available.

We have a long way to go in our recovery. Local people want to be prepared and they are stepping up to that challenge. Only last week, I attended a very well organised community meeting in Sussex Inlet. This community has been evacuated three times this year but doesn't have anywhere local to evacuate to. With one road in and one road out, the community want to make sure they are better prepared for the next disaster, so they are banding together to work out a community plan. Well done to Sandra Gray and the Sussex Inlet and Districts Community Forum Committee for putting this together. I agree, disaster preparedness must start now. We need to have community generators, backup power and telecommunications. We need to make sure our evacuation centres and community safe places are fit for purpose. We have to start now, and I will continue working alongside local people to ensure we are prepared if and when the next disaster should strike. We are strong. I know we will get through this together.