“When you’re talking about the size and scale of Lismore LGA alone, no council anywhere can afford to even partially fund that,” Krieg said.
Blocks of privately owned land had been identified on the outskirts of Lismore that could be used to permanently rehome flood-affected residents, Krieg said.
“There are people who have been sitting on some suitable land for a long time, saying that now is an opportunity to open that up,” Krieg said.
The council said in May that about 1,000 homes would need to be rebuilt off the floodplain, at a cost of $400 million.
The challenge with any buyback or land-swap scheme would be meeting demand, according to Resilient Lismore, a grassroots group helping with recovery.
“Lots of people are ready to go,” co-ordinator and Lismore city councilor Elly Bird said. “They’re just waiting to see what the government will deliver before they decide what they’ll do.
“We know Queensland moved very quickly with a program around buybacks and land swaps, and here we are, still waiting.
“We’d like to see that [independent inquiry] report. That’s our report, our submissions that we put in, and we want to see the results.”
Krieg also called on the government to release the report in its entirety, saying his community needed certainty after five months in limbo.
“People have been holding off making big decisions about their homes and their businesses, waiting for this report.”
Labor state MP Janelle Saffin said purchase prices in a buyback scheme had to be based on pre-flood property valuations, a sentiment echoed by residents.
Schofield said many of the flood-affected parts of Lismore were low-socioeconomic areas and any buyback or land swap scheme had to ensure people had enough money to pay off their debts and start again.
”If you still have to pay your bank [exit] clause in the mortgage, buy a piece of land and build, that will be out of reach for I’d say 90 per cent of people in North and South Lismore.”
She is back living in two rooms of her home, but without any walls, and said she and her neighbors were frustrated waiting for details on what help would be coming their way.
“A week when you’re living like this is a very long time. It’s incredibly stressful. A lot of people are really anxious about their futures.”
She would ideally like to take part in a land swap and move her house with her.
“A lot of us have beautiful old houses built 120 years ago and some of them are still in very good nick. And the community doesn’t necessarily want to separate from each other.
“If we had a magic wand, I think there’s a large percentage who would stay fairly close to where we are now, just out of the flood.”
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