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Lismore News

SWEETER TIMES AHEAD FOR NORCO AND LISMORE, AS ICE CREAM FACTORY REBUILD IS CONFIRMED

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

SWEETER TIMES AHEAD FOR NORCO AND LISMORE, AS ICE CREAM FACTORY REBUILD IS CONFIRMED

Dual funding and co-op investment secures Lismore factory future, offering sprinkle of hope to a community still in need of further support

 (October 4, 2022) – Norco, Australia’s oldest and largest dairy co-operative, has today announced long awaited and much hoped for plans to rebuild its heritage listed, Lismore ice cream factory that was left devastated and out of commission following the February floods.

As a major anchor business in the Northern Rivers region, the announcement is welcomed news not just for the dairy co-operative and its workforce, but also the many small and medium businesses that rely on its operation to drive economic activity – something that is especially critical as the region works to rebuild following the unprecedented natural disaster.

The factory rebuild is supported by a $34.7 million grant from the Federal and NSW State Government’s Anchor Business Support Program, and bolstered by an $11 million grant that remains outstanding from the 2019 Regional Growth Fund (RGF); a program that was delayed due to COVID-19 and then paused following the floods.

In addition, to bring the project to life Norco’s co-contribution will be over $59 million (under the Anchor Business Support Grant guidelines), an investment that the 100% farmer owned co-operative said was important to make in order to safeguard the factory’s future for its workforce, and to keep supporting the broader Lismore community.

Norco Chief Executive, Michael Hampson comments that it’s an exciting day for Norco and its farmer members, and an incredibly rewarding outcome given the positive impact the rebuild will have on the Lismore recovery efforts.

“We know how important this factory and its operations are to this region and we’ve always been committed to do everything we can, within our means, to see a future for the facility.

“While we’re extremely grateful for the government funding we’ve been allocated, it is known that it fell short of what we needed for a complete rebuild – and this is because of the scale of damage incurred and the total cost of the floods to the co-operative which is still estimated to be well over $100 million with this revised project.

“Ideally, in order to employ as many local people as possible, we’d be rebuilding a facility to the same scale as what we were working towards with the previous upgrade (pre-floods). However to fit budgetary constraints, we’ve have had to make some changes to the rebuild plan.

“The revised plan will see a different sort of facility being rebuilt and to make this possible, Norco will be taking on a greater level of risk – something we’re prepared to do in order to safeguard jobs, support other small and medium businesses in region, and offer a sense of hope to a community of people who have already endured so much,” he says.

Hampson adds that because of this, the 100% farmer owned co-operative is calling on the community for their continued support.

“Our farmers are always incredibly grateful when people choose to buy Norco products,” he says.

“And all we ask is that they continue to do so – especially our great tasting milk products and Hinterland ice cream – with the knowledge that they’re supporting a network of hardworking farmers in their efforts to support their local community.”

A rebuild celebrated by workers and farmers

Trent Dobrunz was nearing ten years at the Norco ice cream factory before the floods ravaged the facility leaving it non-operational.

“I’ve loved working for Norco and have certainly appreciated all their efforts in fighting for the factory’s future and for our workforce – efforts that saw us continue to be paid for seven months following the floods, despite the factory not operating,” he said.

“I’m excited by news of the rebuild, and I can’t wait to come back to work when construction is complete and operations are back in full swing. This will be a great day for ice cream factory employees and will send much-needed positive signals right through the Lismore community,” he adds.

Warren Gallagher, a third generation Norco dairy farmer and Northern Rivers resident acknowledges how important this event is for the co-operative’s members and for the dairy industry as a whole.

“It’s no secret that the past few years have been incredibly difficult for dairy farmers, especially the recent period of unprecedented wet weather, and every bit of good news helps keep us motivated to continue doing what we all love doing,” said Mr Gallagher.

“At Norco, we are one big family, and a stronger Norco means a stronger dairy industry in Australia – particularly due the co-op’s ability to help drive improved farmgate milk pricing. This helps not just Norco members, but all dairy farmers and is also incredibly important for the future of the Australian dairy industry.

“The Norco ice cream factory is a Lismore institution, so we’re thrilled to see it survive and to be able to play a part in continuing to deliver great tasting ice cream to consumers,” he said.

A business community still in need of support

Michael Hampson cautions that while today marks a memorable milestone for Norco and the Lismore community, it’s important not to forget the many other small and medium businesses that remain in need of support.

“Today represents a very positive step forward for the ongoing, Lismore recovery efforts. By re-establishing operations, Norco will resume a significant amount of activity that will benefit the local community, and we hope this gives smaller businesses and employers like cafes, restaurants, and motels the confidence to rebuild – but they’re certainly going to need greater support to do so.

While Hampson acknowledges the positive impact the Government’s $60 million Anchor Package funding will have on the community, he also says that the co-operative will continue to advocate for greater financial support for other businesses in region.

“Norco has been part of the Lismore community for more than 127 years and it’s great that we can now set our sights on the next 127 years of co-op success,” he says.

“But beyond this, we also want to see the Northern Rivers business community thriving once again and this can only happen with greater financial support from both the state and federal governments – because jobs, livelihoods and the future of Lismore depends on it,” he concludes.

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Terania Street Reopening to Light Vehicles Only

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Terania Street Reopening to Light Vehicles Only

 

After a closure lasting over four months, Terania Street in Lismore is set to reopen to light vehicles starting from late Friday 21 June, pending favourable weather conditions. This reopening follows the implementation of traffic calming measures aimed at preventing further damage to the rail-over-road bridge caused by oversized vehicles.

  • Traffic Calming Measures:
    • New measures include speed humps, a reduced speed limit of 25 km/h, restricted lane width, traffic islands, and surveillance cameras. These are designed specifically to slow down light vehicles and restrict heavy vehicles (over 4.5 tonnes) from using Terania Street near the rail bridge.
  • Purpose of Measures:
    • The installation aims to prevent future damage to the bridge, which necessitated its closure between Tweed and Peate streets since February 7.
  • Community Impact and Appreciation:
    • Transport for NSW, through Director Region North Anna Zycki, expressed gratitude to residents and businesses for their patience during the closure period. They continue to work towards a permanent solution for the bridge’s sustainability.
  • Heavy Vehicle Detour:
    • Heavy vehicles are advised to use a detour via Wilson Street, Elliott Road, and Ballina Road until further notice. Residents needing access to or from Peate Street should detour via Pine, Crane, and Tweed streets.
  • Heritage Council Approval:
    • Transport for NSW has received approval from the NSW Heritage Council to remove the Terania Street rail-over-road bridge. They are currently addressing the consent conditions and will inform the community about the commencement of this work.
  • Compliance and Safety:
    • New signage, including ‘No right turn’ signs at Peate Street, has been installed to guide vehicles and ensure compliance with the new traffic conditions.

For ongoing updates and details, residents and road users are encouraged to stay informed through Transport for NSW communications channels.

This reopening marks a significant step in restoring normal traffic flow while safeguarding the historic bridge structure from further damage caused by inappropriate vehicle use.

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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No early education care places in ‘childcare desert’

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No early education care places in ‘childcare desert’

 

By Samantha Elley

Rachael Lane and Jaclyn Pilbeam are two young mums who are finding it difficult to navigate the lack of childcare spaces in the Lismore area.

Because she was unable to find childcare for her two-year-old daughter, Sophie, Rachael does shiftwork at night, packing shelves, then takes over at home so her husband can go to work during the day.

Jaclyn was luckier in that she was able to find a place for her 13-month-old daughter, Evie,  but she had to take extreme action.

“We had our daughter Evie on a daycare (list) before she was even born,” she said.

“She is still on waiting lists, as Evie goes to daycare that is 20-30 minutes from our house.

“It’s not ideal for our family. I need to go to work. I’d love to stay at home with my children but it’s just not an option for me.”

Ms Pilbeam said the cost of living meant she had to work, but not only that, her time at work helped her as well.

“I am a better mum when I work,” she said.

“I am quite happy to send my child to daycare, although it’s not my first option. It works for me and it works for my family.

“We need those options available in our area for mums like me.”

Ms Pilbeam said that the waiting lists in Lismore for childcare is on average 200 young ones.

Isabel McLennan of The Learning Cottage in Lismore and Wollongbar confirmed the numbers.

“I’ve got 300 families on both waiting lists,” she said.

“That’s 600 children that we can’t supply places for.”

Another issue, especially since the 2022 flood, is the need for quality early childhood educators, according to Mitch Hutchinson of Kyogle Early Learning.

“To fill those spots with quality educators is also a big issue in this area,” he said.

“To attract and retain high quality early childhood teachers in the area where there’s zero rentals (and) high cost of living area is really hard for the award wages they get paid.”

The opposition is calling for the government to address the crisis for young families.

“This is a big problem across our country,” said Angie Bell, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education.

“We are looking at more flexibility and choice for regional families that currently do not have access to early learning.”

Minister Bell said the issue seemed more acute in Lismore, due to the flood crisis, but it was an issue across the country.

“There are 9 million Australians who live in a childcare desert and what that means is there are three children waiting for every place available.”

Minister Bell said the Labor government needed to step up and deliver more for regional families.

“They spent $4.7 billion on their Cheaper Childcare Bill and all they’ve delivered is zero places for regional Australians,” she said.

“Fees have gone up by 7% in less than six months and so families are paying more, which means they have to work longer hours.”

And while Minister Bell was unable to reveal the childcare policy of the Coalition, more would be revealed closer to the next election.

“What we want to see is flexibility and choice for families,” she said.

A new report from the Centre for Policy Development was released last week and it recommended bold reforms to ensure universal early education and care for all children.

Ten key reforms were suggested in the Growing Together: A future universal early childhood education and care system for Australia report.

These included  ensuring all children had access to a minimum of three days of early childhood education and care a week at low or no cost.

“Three days is perfect,” said Jaclyn.

“It feels like a happy medium. I feel like I can give more to my children.

“It’s good socialisation for the kids and you’ve still got four days with your children at zero dollar rate.”

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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Soldiers to March into Lismore: Freedom of Entry Parade

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Soldiers to March into Lismore: Freedom of Entry Parade

 

Soldiers from the esteemed 41st Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment, based in Lismore, are set to perform a stirring Freedom of Entry Parade into the heart of the Lismore CBD on Saturday, June 22nd, 2024.

Led by the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Danial Healy, the ceremonial parade will feature up to 200 soldiers from the Northern Rivers region, accompanied by a military marching band. The event will commence at 1:00 pm on Magellan Street, proceeding through the city streets before concluding at Memorial Gardens on Molesworth Street around 2:00 pm.

This symbolic procession will see the soldiers donning their full regalia, showcasing the esteemed traditions of the battalion. Superintendent Scott Tanner, the Richmond PD District commander, and Mayor of Lismore, Councillor Steve Krieg, will formally challenge the soldiers’ right of entry into the city as they halt along the route.

Lieutenant Colonel Healy emphasised the significance of exercising the battalion’s Freedom of Entry, underscoring the close ties between the soldiers and the local community. He highlighted the battalion’s pivotal role in the response to the 2022 floods, reaffirming their commitment to serving the community.

The Freedom of Entry Parade holds historical significance, rooted in military tradition and medieval history. It represents the highest honour bestowed upon the Australian Defence Force by a city, symbolizing the enduring bond between the military and the local community.

The parade not only serves as a ceremonial spectacle but also as an opportunity for the soldiers to deepen their connections with the City of Lismore. As a prelude to the lantern parade, this event promises to be a captivating display of unity and respect, commemorating the rich heritage of the 41st Battalion.

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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