In an unprecedented win, Page MP Janelle Saffin has successfully lobbied for the North Coast’s horticultural industry to be able to claim losses from wind damage under Commonwealth-State flood assistance grants.

Ms Saffin moved quickly on Thursday night to ensure that hundreds of primary producers in the macadamia, garden and nursery, blueberry, banana, coffee, stonefruit, lychee and custard apple industries were not shut out of the clean-up and restoration grants of up to $15,000.

“Jolyon Burnett, the Lismore-based Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Macadamia Society, contacted my office as soon as he became aware that the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements criteria had not included the flood-related wind damage,” she said.

“Dunoon macadamia farmer Greg Woods, who is one of our wonderful State Emergency Services volunteers, also alerted me to the problem. I immediately contacted New South Wales Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald to get an urgent review of the arrangements and kept the Attorney-General Robert McClelland informed as well.

“I made public comments that I wanted the guidelines interpreted to include the flood-related wind damage, and I am glad that this has been settled because the horticultural industry is such an important driver of the North Coast economy.”

Mr Burnett agreed that it was a pleasing result, particularly as the wind damage could cost the macadamia industry $30 million by affecting about one fifth of what would otherwise have been a bumper crop this season.

Ms Saffin also welcomed an announcement from Federal Minister for Human Services, Senator Joe Ludwig, that Centrelink’s Mobile Servicing Unit over the next fortnight would be visiting towns on the North Coast to assist communities affected by the major flooding.

The bus is scheduled to visit Ulmarra and Brushgrove this Sunday May 31 then Maclean on Monday June 1; Yamba on Tuesday June 2; Iluka and Woodburn on Wednesday June 3; Coraki and Wardell on Thursday June 4; Bonalbo on Tuesday June 9; and Kyogle on Wednesday June 10.