Only 28 per cent of business flood claims on the North Coast have been approved, according to the NSW Labor leader, Chris Minns.
During a tour of the Norco factory with Lismore MP Janelle Saffin, Shadow Minister for the North Coast Walt Secord, and union representatives yesterday, Mr Minns called on the NSW Government to eliminate the hurdles facing business owners as they apply for "much needed" recovery funding.
He welcomed the Federal Government support package for Norco, but was concerned promised funding was not coming soon enough to other businesses, with some owners yet to receive any funding, despite repeated applications over the past months.
A Lismore construction company owner, who hires more than 20 local workers, told him they had applied for funding on four occasions, but so far, "hasn't seen a dollar from the NSW government".
Mr Minns said he heard the application process was complicated and frustrating for many business owners, and they needed support, not hurdles.
Rather than giving a "hard no", he said they needed to work with businesses to reopen, to keep workers employed, and to stimulate the local economy.
State Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union Cory Wright said the funding package for Norco provided "much needed relief" for workers and their families, and recognised the importance of jobs in the community.
"What it recognises, is while the infrastructure is important for Norco, the skills are just as important," Mr Wright said.
"We need to retain those skills in the area if businesses are going to rebuild."
He said the Norco package would have a flow on effect to help other businesses recover.
But, he said measures beyond funding were needed to support the region, and local businesses needed to "come together to work out what is possible and what is needed", including under-writing insurance and flood mitigation strategies.
Lismore MP Janelle Saffin was excited to hear Norco's plans for development.
Justin Smith said Norco an "important employer on the Northern Rivers", offering "really good wages and conditions".
He said manufacturing jobs needed to be protected in Australia, and keeping them local meant money was kept in the community.
Steve Magann from the ETU agreed the funding was important: "This is all about the local workers, it is all about the community".
Walt Secord took the opportunity to remind the NSW Government the recovery process was nowhere near complete in Lismore.
"I want to send a direct message to the Premier- please do not forget about the North Coast," Mr Secord said.
"Honour your commitments. Honour you promises to the families on the North Coast and the businesses here, and make sure Norco is here for another 100 years."
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