NSW opposition leader tours flood zone
NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley became the latest in a long line of politicians to visit Lismore's disaster zone and said he hadn't come earlier because he "didn't want to be tripping over emergency service workers".
Mr Foley justified his late visit and said he had been in contact with Lismore Major Isaac Smith both before and after the floods.
"It's best to talk to people who are getting back on their feet, what their experiences are, what they've been through and how governments can plan to do it better in the future.
"I certainly didn't want to be here tripping over emergency service workers at the peak of the flood."
Mr Foley said he hadn't come here to be critical, but to think about and plan for the next natural disaster.
"History tells us this won't be the last flood," he said, noting governments at all levels have a responsibility to get ready for next time.
He said Labor was committed to upholding the expectations of ravaged communities, particularly in regards to insurance companies in light of the confusion around flood versus storm damage.
"I think all sides of politics will join together to put pressure on the insurance companies to just do the right thing rather than squabbling with people who have lost so much," he said.
"I said to a few businesses 'if your insurances stuff you around to give me a call'."
Mr Foley noted "lessons have been learnt" by all, and said it would be "silly" if the current government didn't ask how things could be made better in the future.
Mr Foley said he recognised the need for more planning of the immediate recovery effort, taking in to account the mass effort of donations, materials and volunteer assistance. He urged state and federal governments to factor that into their disaster planning.
"There needs to be an agency to plan and coordinate the mass relief effort," he said.
Mr Foley said he kept hearing a need for governments to pay more attention to the organisation of disaster related events.
"Our party recognises the need for preparation for both minimising the threat and for what happens after the flood waters," he said
"We are here to listen to the residents, provide moral support and solidarity and to ask what can be done better in the future.
"It's not political, it's just the decent thing to do.
"People power and community spirit is what's getting Lismore back on its feet."
Shadow Minister for the North Coast, Walt Secord also hit the pavement alongside Mr Foley inspecting flood damage and said he stood by some of his recent comments which had been critical of the government's response to the floods.
"They were told day after day, Cyclone Debbie is coming and there was absolute silence by the Nationals and the Premier."