Kevin Hogan says without State funding, Norco's ice cream factory may close

Cathy Adams
Updated May 31 2022 - 9:16am, first published 12:05pm

UPDATE 12.00PM: The State government has responded to claims by Page MP Kevin Hogan it is not doing enough for large business in Lismore after the flood, saying the support package is funded by the Federal Government, "at its insistence".

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said: "More than $3 billion in support, the majority of which is co-funded 50:50 between the Commonwealth and NSW governments, has been announced since the first disaster declarations were made to support flood-impacted communities across NSW throughout the recovery process".


"The Northern Rivers Business Support Package for Large Business is solely funded by the Commonwealth at their insistence," Ms Cooke said.

"The NSW Government is open to considering more flood recovery support measures in coordination with the new Federal Government."

In response, Page MP Kevin Hogan said: "Former Emergency Management Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie is not aware of any offer made by the State Government for this program".

"The Federal Government has been asking for weeks for the State to support this program. If they are happy to contribute it would be readily accepted," Mr Hogan said.

Original story: Norco will leave Lismore if the State doesn't provide funding in the coming weeks - that's the claim made by Page MP Kevin Hogan today in publicly calling on the State Government to match the Federal Government's pledge of $50 million to the Anchor Business Support Package.

Stoush erupts over big business flood fund
Stoush erupts over big business flood fund

Mr Hogan and Lismore mayor Steve Krieg held a press conference urging the State Government to act fast to keep businesses in the flood ravaged town.

In March, then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $50 million fund to help large businesses such as Norco recover after the flood on February 28.

"The Federal Government announced the $50 million Anchor Business Support Package two months ago," Mr Hogan said.

"This program will provide tailored grants to large businesses that were directly impacted by the floods and will support them to reopen and retain staff.

Lismore mayor Steve Krieg and Page MP Kevin Hogan have urged the State Government to co-contribute to a fund for big businesses impacted by the floods. Picture: Cathy Adams
Lismore mayor Steve Krieg and Page MP Kevin Hogan have urged the State Government to co-contribute to a fund for big businesses impacted by the floods. Picture: Cathy Adams

"Since we announced this, we have been asking the State Government to co-contribute. I have written and spoken to the Premier and Deputy Premier about this.

"If they don't support this, businesses like Norco's Ice Cream Factory - which employs over 230 people - will potentially close.

"If we don't get the co-contribution from the State Government for this program, key industry players - one example is the Norco ice cream factory in Lismore - will close. Now that is unacceptable to me, its unacceptable to the mayor.

"We cannot afford to lose key employers like Norco."

Mr Hogan said Norco had indicated soon after the flood that assistance was needed, and funding had been provided as an interim measure, to help them remain in Lismore.

He said the formal application process for the funding will open to large businesses in the first week of June, but he hoped the State would commit to providing an additional $50 million in funding to ensure that all businesses that apply will receive the money they need.

"There are quite significant agricultural businesses around here as well as some quite significant industrial businesses as well," Mr Hogan said. "The volume of money needed, needs State Government contribution funds to cover."

Mayor Krieg backed the call for urgent action.

"I've listened for 12 weeks now since our flood event that the State and Federal Governments are fully supportive of rebuilding Lismore back better than what it was before. Now we can't do that unless we've got jobs for our community. Which means we need programs like this to be funded, not in four weeks, not in six weeks, but right now," Cr Krieg said.

"We need people to have jobs to go to so they can rebuild their lives in Lismore. I've got great faith that Lismore will come back, bigger and better than what it was before. But we can't do that without the State and Federal governments support.

"This program in particular is really important for us to be able to ensure our bigger employers that don't fit into things like the medium business grant that the support is there from the government at both levels, that they can not only rebuild but grow with confidence, so that Lismore will once again be the regional heart of the Northern Rivers."

Mr Hogan said the commitment to funding by the State Government was crucial in coming weeks.

"My understanding is that if we don't get a co-contribution from the State Government with this, is that Norco will be closing the ice cream factory in Lismore, and that is unacceptable."

Norco representatives and Flood Minister Steph Cooke have been contacted for comment.

Cathy Adams

Cathy Adams