Feds step in to help flood-affected businesses

Federal Government announces concessional loans and generous freight subsidies to help flood-affected businesses in NSW recover

By Brad Gardner | June 20, 2011

NSW businesses will have access to concessional loans and freight subsidies as part of the Federal Government’s plan to help the state recover from recent flooding.

As the NSW mid north coast deals with the fallout from wild weather that has isolated towns and cut off roads, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says businesses and primary producers will have access to concessional rate loans of up to $130,000.

"Transport freight subsidies of up to 50 percent will assist hard-hit primary producers with moving livestock and fodder," she says.

"Funding will also be provided to restore and replace essential public assets such as roads, bridges and schools in affected areas."

Heavy rain has caused rivers to overflow and forced the state’s government to evacuate towns. Some areas will be cut off until the waters recede, while parts of the road network remained closed or operating under changed conditions.

In its latest traffic advisory, the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) says the Pacific Highway at Clybucca is still flooded. A single lane is open and traffic control measures have been put in place.

Trucking operators scheduling trips to Kempsey will need to seek information from the region’s local government on road closures, with the RTA saying the township continues to be affected by floods.

Flooding has also forced authorities to impose conditions on sections of the Monaro and Snowy Mountains highways. NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay says crews are working on the New England Highway to repair damage.

"Along the New England Highway, areas that have been affected include west of Singleton, Muswellbrook, Aberdeen and Parkville near Scone," he says.

The floods forced many trucks divert onto the highway, prompting the RTA to advise motorists to avoid travel if possible.

Gay says the roads department had almost completed repair work on a section of the route damaged in January’s floods when the latest natural disaster hit.

He says the increased number of vehicles using the New England has caused problems between Glen Innes and Armidale.

"There are seven electronic signs on the highway at the moment. People need to be careful. The wheels and tyres on a large number of cars on the New England Highway have already been damaged," Gay says.

"We have lowered the speed limit in certain areas. Trucks are travelling slower, which means that other vehicles will travel slower."

The NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association last week urged trucking customers to be patient, as the weather disrupted scheduling and delivery times.

Police and Emergency Services Minister Michael Gallacher issued disaster declarations for a number of areas, including Port Stephens, Kempsey, the Upper Hunter and Bellingen.

The RTA is providing updates on the latest road closures on its live traffic website.

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