Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison wants NSW Government to consider April 2015 super storm in valuing cost of Testers Hollow upgrade

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison has called on the state government to contribute more money to upgrade Testers Hollow, taking into account the cost of the April 2015 super storm.

The NSW Government announced earlier this year it would provide $2 million towards the project in addition to the $15 million promised by the Federal Government.

The state government’s funding promise came after a Freedom of Information Request (GIPA) was obtained by Labor.

The GIPA included an economic appraisal, which valued the cost of the April 2015 flood event at $2.5 million from lost wages and detours.

As a result of the super storm the road at Testers Hollow was closed for 16 days. The community of Gillieston Heights was also trapped for a week.

Ms Aitchison said the appraisal failed to consider other issues such as the cost of emergency and community services, emergency relief, medical evacuation and stationing emergency services personnel at Gillieston Heights during the storm.

“Most importantly, when assessing the impact of the April 2015 event, there was no mention of the personal costs of this event, including the loss of life which occurred at Fishery Creek,” she said. 

Ms Aitchison wants the government to provide a detailed outline of costs of the April 2015 super storm as part of valuing the cost benefit of the project.

She wrote to Roads Minister Melinda Pavey in May in the hope that a more comprehensive appraisal of costs would improve the benefit cost ratio (BCR).

The minister responded on June 15 saying “the costs [of the super storm] to the community were acknowledged by the Government with the provision of support services across the affected areas.”

“Roads and Maritime Services consider economic costs in developing the cost benefit of projects,” Ms Pavey said.

“A proposal is currently being developed to improve flood immunity, on Cessnock Road at Testers Hollow, which will consider the frequency and economic cost of road closures to the community.”

Ms Aitchison said the $2 million was a “meagre” amount to commit to the project considering the cost of the super storm.

“The NSW Government is refusing to include all relevant factors in the BCR for the project,” she said.

"The Berejiklian Government must release a detailed response on the quantum of the economic cost of the April 2015 super storm.  

“Anything less shows a disgraceful lack of respect for the local community.”

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