It was an honour to be a part of the rededication of Gunnedah’s 8th  Memorial Avenue on Sunday. 

It has been more than 75 years since the 8th Division served their country in the Second World War. And it has been 65 years since the sacrifice of those who served was first honoured here at 8th Division Memorial Avenue in Gunnedah.

The avenue was opened in 1957 by Lieutenant General Henry Gordon Bennett, Commander of the 8th Division. This magnificent tribute to the fallen of the 8th Division and supporting forces has grown and become a landmark in Gunnedah over the years.

I congratulate the Gunnedah RSL sub-Branch for the care and pride they have taken with this project. The rededication has further highlighted the sacrifices of those who fought, served and lost their lives for our freedoms, and it is a project that the Gunnedah Shire Council are very proud to have supported.

The relocation of the plaques and this rededication ceremony clearly show that we continue to honour these Australians for the sacrifices they made.

Looking ahead, I urge our community to brace for more potential flooding this weekend following warnings from The Bureau of Meteorology and NSW SES about a significant weather front moving across NSW. 

A  major flood level is possible in Gunnedah and the SES is urging all residents to make preparations now ahead of the forecast rain by reconsidering travel plans and stocking up on essential items should riverine flooding develop.

These recurring flood events have highlighted the urgent need for a flood mitigation study to be carried out in the Gunnedah Shire. 

I am working with the State government through our local member Kevin Anderson and the NSW Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery, Steph Cooke to this end.

I have written to Mr Anderson, who is also the Minister for Water, seeking assistance for funding for an independent organisation to review the impacts of flooding, and identify strategies to mitigate its impacts on the Gunnedah Shire community.

The flood events in November 2021, December 2021, August 2022 and most recently now in September 2022 and the associated natural disaster declarations, have made it clear that our community will still be vulnerable to the impacts of future similar events. 

From the 2021 events alone, the impact on essential public infrastructure in the Gunnedah Shire was in excess of $1.3 million just to restore it to its pre-event condition, and the losses to the shire’s broader economy through damage to agricultural infrastructure and loss to primary production is in the tens of millions of dollars.  

Beyond this financial burden, the repeat flooding experienced by our shire has caused significant stress and anguish, impacting on the mental health of so many residents, business owners and representatives of organisations like the Gunnedah Shire Council in dealing with these natural disasters. More needs to be done to identify potential measures that will reduce the likelihood of flooding throughout the shire and the consequences of water inundation to our farmers, business owners and residents throughout the Gunnedah Shire.

It has been a long times since such a study was carried out and it is a good opportunity to come up with new ideas and fresh innovations that will provide us with a more comprehensive list of recommendations to improve the situation for the Shire the next time flooding occurs. 

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