Around 60 people displaced by the severe flooding in NSW are being relocated to Queensland before the Easter tourist season. The flood victims have been living in emergency accommodation in Byron Bay. But they’ve now been told they have to move ‘cos of holidays booked in the area.
The story was first reported by VICE Australia. According to VICE, the New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice sent a letter to people temporarily living in a Byron holiday park.
Those people were told they had until April 4 to “check out” from the holiday park. Probably one of clearest examples of terrible phrasing I’ve seen in my entire life, there.
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The reason they’re being moved? ‘Cos the accommodation currently being used to house flood victims had been booked out in advance for the Easter holidays.
Now let’s be clear: this isn’t about the tourists who’ve had their hols booked for yonks in advance.
But it is grim that our disaster response is so poor that people are being sent interstate because there’s nowhere for them to stay. After their homes were literally destroyed in floods the Federal Government was allegedly warned in advance about.
The Department of Communities and Justice said that hotels and accommodation had been booked out for months and sometimes years in advance.
“Regrettably some of these accommodation options are not available during the Easter and school holiday period due to other bookings made well before the devastating floods,” it said in a statement as per The Guardian.
The department’s secretary Paul Vevers told the ABC that with events like Bluesfest cancelled multiple times, people carried their bookings through.
“I would say tourism is vital in the Northern Rivers, it’s vital for jobs, it’s vital for businesses,” he said.
According to Vevers the NSW Government hadn’t been able to find accommodation in NSW, just Queensland. The flood victims will be sent to the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Grafton.
He did say that after Easter, those flood victims would be moved back to their emergency accommodation.
“I just cannot apologise enough for the disruption that this will cause people and we will do everything that we can to minimise it,” Vevers said.
And all this is happening against the backdrop of Northern NSW residents once again being evacuated because of rainfall. Byron Bay and Ballina also flooded earlier this week but weren’t evacuated.
It kind of feels like maybe we actually need a long-term plan for these sorts of disasters. One with the victims of environmental disaster and the climate crisis at its core.