Flood inquiry urges Resilience NSW axing

·2-min read

The NSW agency created to lead the response and prepare the state for natural disasters should be dismantled and its chief commissioner made redundant, an independent inquiry has reportedly recommended.

A key recommendation from the inquiry into devastating flooding in NSW is that Shane Fitzsimmons be stood down and Resilience NSW be scrapped, media have reported.

Premier Dominic Perrottet has promised to make the report by former police commissioner Mick Fuller and chief scientist Mary O'Kane public, but is yet to do so.

Resilience NSW was established in 2020 following the Black Summer bushfires to lead the state's preparedness and response to natural disasters.

Mr Fitzsimmons, the 2021 NSW Australian of the Year and former NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner, was appointed head of the agency after rising to prominence during the bushfire disaster.

Resilience NSW was criticised during the inquiry's community hearings for its failure to provide timely support to flood victims.

Mr Fitzsimmons defended the body before parliament in April following disastrous flooding in the Northern Rivers and the Hawkesbury-Nepean region earlier this year, saying it was not just another layer of bureaucracy.

"It's designed to actually provide a more streamlined and coordinated approach to pulling together the state's entire efforts in relation to recovery," he said.

Another inquiry into the floods in May was told Resilience NSW was "simply not there" during flooding in Lismore.

"They were missing in action and they never made their presence known," Lismore MP Janelle Saffin said.

Lismore Mayor Steve Krieg said Resilience NSW struggled to run evacuation centres.

"To have a public service come in and run an evacuation centre is a challenge because it's almost treated like a nine-to-five job," he said.

The floods in February and March killed 13 people and destroyed more than 4000 homes.

Opposition leader Chris Minns said the creation of Resilience NSW led to more red tape and confusion over which emergency services agencies are responsible for what.

"The massive bureaucracy that is Resilience NSW being placed on top of our emergency services has not worked," he said.

NSW Labor has demanded the report be made public saying devastated communities have a right to know how to better prepare.

"The government does not have a right to sit on this report until it is politically expedient for them to release it," opposition spokesman for the North Coast Walt Secord said on Wednesday.

A NSW government spokesperson said the premier had the report and intended to release it soon.

"The government will consider the recommendations and release it as well as its response in the near future."

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