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Election 2022: Climate change 'number one concern' for flood survivors

·Environment Editor
·3-min read

Climate change is impacting the way NSW locals impacted by the floods are voting this Federal Election.

Yahoo News Australia has spoken to three Coraki locals struggling to rebuild their lives months after their homes were destroyed.

The small regional town sits where the Richmond and Wilson Rivers meet and was cut off from the rest of the state for five days in February.

Deb Johnston sitting on the porch of her shed.
Deborah Johnston is still living in her shed, months after the floods destroyed her home. Source: Supplied

Deborah Johnston is still living in a shed on her property, but she considers herself one of the lucky ones – she has electricity.

“People out here are still living in tents. It’s wet, it's just so wet you can't dry anything out,” she said.

Last week Ms Johnston’s car became bogged as she was trying to get to hospital, seeking treatment for a breathing issue.

Now she’s having to try and find somewhere new to live, because her home is situated on a flood plain and she expects extreme weather to worsen in the coming years.

Deborah Johnston in a tinny on a flooded street.
Climate change is the number one issue this Federal Election for Deborah Johnston. Source: Supplied

Feeling that her town has been abandoned by the Federal Government, she now plans to change the way she has traditionally voted.

“Climate change is my number one concern,” she said.

“Normally I’ve actually been a Liberal Party supporter, but because of their lack of action in relation to climate change, and the total disregard for it, I’m voting for the Fusion Party.”

Flood survivor won't be voting this election

Because of the mould growing in her home after the floods, Marie Hayes, 55, had to have large holes cut in her walls to remove it.

She doubts she’ll ever see a cent from her insurance company, and is also struggling with severe PTSD from the flood events which causes her to frequently lose her voice.

Holes had to be cut in Marie Hayes' walls to rid her home of mould. Source: Supplied
Holes had to be cut in Marie Hayes' walls to rid her home of mould. Source: Supplied

Upset by the response of both Labor and Liberal, Ms Hayes said she won’t be voting this election.

“None of them deserve my vote. They’re not doing anything for the country. They’re not doing anything for the people,” she said.

“So why would I vote for them?”

Flood survivor explains why he's voting Greens or Labor

The bottom story of Gough Bourke’s home is still a “disaster” and no repairs have begun.

“I’ve got no power down there. The backyard is still a bit of a mess. I’ve just got rubbish everywhere and I’m cleaning things still,” the 41-year-old said.

“I’ve got no hot water still. It’s still pretty rough but not as bad as it is for a lot of people.”

Despite the extensive damage to his home, Gough Bourke believes he's in a better situation than many. Source: Supplied
Despite the extensive damage to his home, Gough Bourke believes he's in a better situation than many. Source: Supplied

Because he didn’t have contents insurance, he’s sifting through his possessions systematically, trying to work out what’s worth saving.

Ahead of the election, Mr Bourke said he was still deciding who to vote for but it with either be Labor or the Greens.

He believes the current government has been “useless” at helping his region recover from the floods.

“I don't think there's a great deal of care about us,” he said.

“They don't really see us on the Northern Rivers as them. I think they see us as kind of something different.”

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