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Minns Urges McMahon to Prioritise Flood Relief Over Politics

May 14, 2024

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns has called for a focus on community needs over political agendas in the ongoing efforts for flood planning and relief. His remarks come in response to claims made by Hawkesbury Mayor Sarah McMahon, which he deemed “disingenuous.”

“I just want to make it clear; I’ll meet with anyone, particularly in relation to natural disasters, “ Minns told reporters Tuesday. “I think it’s really important that we put politics to one side and really focus on what the community needs. That’s my experience in Forbes, and in Orange, and Moree with the crime issues up there, up in Lismore. I don’t care what political affiliation someone has; we just want to focus on getting good outcomes.

“It’s been a very busy month however, and I don’t want the community to be left with the impression by the Mayor of Hawkesbury that there’s been no meetings, or that she’s been waiting by the phone desperate for information,” he said.

Cr McMahon took to her Facebook page on Monday as well as the Seven Network News, to complain about the Premier.

“Chris Minns *tagged*…for over 12 months I have invited you to speak with me…leader to leader – about flood mitigation – a potential life and death issue…and you STILL won’t do it, Cr McMahon wrote.

“Even today, the Premier spoke ABOUT me at his Press Conference, but refuses to speak TO me about the issue. ??????”, McMahon wrote on FB.

NSW Premier Chris Minns speaking at a press conference today. He said the government is working closely with Hawkesbury Council about flooding.

The Premier, who visited the Hawkesbury after the 2022 floods and met with members of the community to discuss flooding at that time, said it was important to set aside political affiliations for the greater good, particularly in times of natural disasters. 

“My understanding is that she’s had a meeting with the Minister for Water( Rose Jackson), the Minister for Planning (Paul Scully) in recent months precisely about these issues. Last year she met with the Minister for Emergency Services. I know that the Disaster Recovery Agency, Reconstruction Authority is working with the local council about disaster adaptation plans, Hawkesbury Council with the New South Wales government.

Indeed, after meeting with Scully, Cr McMahon posted a picture of them on her Facebook page saying : “Thanks to Paul Scully MP, Minister for Planning, for joining Western Sydney Mayors this evening…and yes, I definitely raised our concerns regarding floods, floods and more floods… and evacuation routes, planning certainty and connection to the new airport.”

Minns said: “I think it’s a bit disingenuous to suggest that the council’s waiting by the phone for cooperation from the New South Wales government,” he said.

Federal Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, said the state government had been responsiveness to flood threats, emphasising the importance of both immediate response and long-term planning to enhance resilience and reduce risks.

“I think there are two key issues for the NSW government when it comes to the Hawkesbury, and I am confident that from the Premier down there is not just awareness, but action being taken,” Templeman said. 

“One relates to how governments respond to an immediate flood threat and the aftermath. The responsiveness of the Minns Government over the past weekend to problems that were evident in many previous recent floods, has been positive. For instance, this weekend, the rails on North Richmond bridge were taken down well ahead of flood waters flowing over the bridge and the information on dam heights and water flows was more timely and accessible. These are improvements that respond to feedback from me on behalf of the community to state government ministers, and no doubt other community members provided similar feedback. 

“The other key issue relates to the long term planning to improve our resilience and reduce the risk,” she said.

Minns said that the NSW government had allocated hundreds of millions of dollars for disaster recovery plans, particularly as it relates to evacuation routes for Sydney’s Northwest. These include $100 million dollars for the Pitt Town bypass and $540 million dollars for Richmond Road. 

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