The Member for Nhulunbuy Lynne Walker said today that local communities were responding remarkably to the aftermath of Cyclone Lam, but significant support was needed.
Ms Walker visited the north-east Arnhemland homelands of Nyinyikay, Matamata and Marpuru and the community of Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island on the weekend to deliver food and check on the welfare of residents.
“Assisted by emergency services, Elcho Island residents have done a remarkable effort clearing their yards and roads, but they are exhausted,” Ms Walker said.
“There is a need for alternative shelter arrangements for families made homeless and options could include utilising existing vacant government housing and visitor accommodation on the island or providing subsidised flights to Nhulunbuy.
“There are families who can find temporary accommodation with relatives at Yirrkala, Ski Beach and Nhulunbuy and could get their kids back to school as Shepherdson College is closed for the week, if the government can assist with subsidised flights.”
Ms Walker thanked Shepherdson College staff who worked tirelessly to assist families sheltering from Cyclone Lam in the school hall.
“The school’s acting Principal Marg Fenbury and her staff have done a great job and I hope that additional support is brought to the island to help our public servants who have been working tirelessly for days,” Ms Walker said.
“The clean-up job is underway and a great effort is occurring yet it’d be good to see more practical support such as storage containers for families whose homes need repair so that their salvaged household goods can be stored.
“I also ask for the Government to assess the impact and repairs required for homelands on Elcho Island such as Gawa and Banthula so that they get assistance as soon as possible.”
Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211
Member for Nhulunbuy Lynne Walker has called on the NT Government to set up an Emergency Response Centre in Nhulunbuy as a priority in the wake of Cyclone Lam.
Ms Walker said a temporary ERC in Nhulunbuy could provide the critical assistance and disaster recovery services to people in the East Arnhem region affected by Cyclone Lam.
"We still await news from some communities about the extent of damage from the cyclone which even though downgraded is still active," Ms Walker said.
"Establishing an Emergency Response Centre in Nhulunbuy, the major centre in closest proximity to the affected regions, will enable a timely and coordinated response to remote communities as they come to grips with the cyclone damage.
"Over the last couple of days I have been able to maintain phone contact with a number of remote communities including the coastal homelands of Mapuru and Nyinyikay which also bore the brunt of the cyclone.
"Residents there report they are safe and well.
"Little detail is coming from Galiwin’ku at this stage though I understand there are thankfully no reports of injuries.
"However concerns remain about the extent of the damage with at least six homes destroyed; power lines down and extensive debris across the community.
"Thanks and praise goes to police and emergency services personnel, staff from the Bureau of Meteorology and residents right across Arnhemland for their timely and calm preparations which no doubt minimised potential harm and made sure residents were as safe as possible.
"Grave concerns remain, however, for Galiwn'ku residents in particular, and it is vitally important that when safe to do so, a full assessment of community needs is fully resourced so that post recovery plans are put in to place as soon as possible.
"Our people are strong, brave and resilient but will need a whole-of- government support and effort to fully recover.”
Ms Walker said she was pleased to hear that the new housing built to code under Labor had stood up well in such destructive winds.
"Good shelter is essential in our coastal communities and it reinforces the need for a continued housing program," Ms Walker said.
Member for Nhulunbuy Lynne Walker said her office has been inundated today with queries about the CLP Cabinet visit.
Ms Walker said there was a lot of confusion about the visit with most residents being unaware the Cabinet was turning up and no broad community invitations to any event.
“We have heard that Cabinet Ministers have chartered in and will charter out and that it is not a community Cabinet visit but instead a Cabinet meeting with a select few being invited to a carefully stage managed meet and greet with no opportunity for questions," Ms Walker said.
“Is this how the CLP intends to do business shrouded in secrecy with a select few?
“This is an opportunity for the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues to hold a community forum to hear directly the concerns of businesses, traditional owners and families affected by the Rio Tinto refinery curtailment.
“Will Adam Giles explain why the CLP are viewing the refinery as a curtailment rather than the closure it actually is? Will Adam Giles explain what the Government is saying to Rio Tinto in relation to the rehabilitation of the toxic Red Mud Ponds?
“Will anyone in the CLP Cabinet explain why there isn’t a Structural Adjustment Package for Nhulunbuy and the region as is usually the case in every other Australian regional city impacted by an industrial shutdown of this scale?
“Will the Corrections Minister John Elferink explain to Nhulunbuy residents why he has gazetted the closure of the town’s only sobering up shelter and alcohol rehabilitation facility to turn it into a prison against the community’s wishes?”
Ms Walker said she supported community corrections facilities but called on the Government to invest in a facility – which would create jobs and economic stimulus – rather than close vital existing services.
“Will the Health Minister Robyn Lambley explain why she is sitting on Commonwealth funding to deliver a new and much-needed Emergency Department at Gove District Hospital?” Ms Walker asked.
“We’re sick of this Government treated us with contempt and the sneakiness and exclusiveness of this visit is appalling.”
Media contact: Michael Gleeson 0400 096 924
Member for Nhulunbuy, Lynne Walker, today said Nhulunbuy and the surrounding regions appear to have been left out of the CLP Government’s Developing the North plans.
“The CLP Government’s major economic policy for the Territory is void of any real plans for economic drivers for Nhulunbuy and the surrounding regions," Ms Walker said.
"This region has been left without key direction since the announcement by Rio Tinto to curtail their Alumina refinery operation in November last year.
“Adam Giles and the CLP Government have turned their backs on Nhulunbuy and the surrounding region.
"Developing the North forums are being held in every major Territory centre but Nhulunbuy.
"And advertising for the Developing the North policy to a national audience has left Nhulunbuy off the map completely.
“Is it a case of out of sight out of mind for Adam Giles and the CLP Government?"
Ms Walker said for nearly nine months the residents of Nhulunbuy have had to suffer the inaction of Adam Giles and the CLP Government.
"Residents are still waiting for the CLP Government to provide answers to what their plans are for the future of Nhulunbuy," Ms Walker said.
“Tourism ventures have been announced yet the CLP Tourism Minister, Matt Conlan, has not even visited the region.
“The Territorians living in Nhulunbuy and the surrounding regions deserve better."
Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667