THE opening salvos in the fight for Page have been fired, with Australian Labor Party candidate Patrick Deegan pledging $750,000 to upgrade the helipad at Maclean Hospital, if elected.

Just days after the Nationals confirmed the pre-selection of current Member for Page Kevin Hogan for next year's federal election, Mr Deegan was joined by Shadow Health Minister Catherine King at Maclean District Hospital this morning for the funding announcement.

Mr Deegan said people in Maclean had repeatedly told him the new helipad was a top priority for the local community and had been frustrated that their calls have been ignored.

"Kevin Hogan and the federal and state Liberals have done nothing about the closure of the old helipad for almost 18 months, forcing patients to be transferred by ambulance from a nearby field," Mr Deegan said.

"In contrast, Labor has listened to community groups and health workers.

"Labor's investment will restore direct helicopter transfers from Maclean District Hospital, ensuring faster access to care at other hospitals and keeping ambulances where they belong - on the road responding to calls."

MONEY PROMISED: Page Labor candidate Patrick Deegan, Federal Shadow Health Minister Catherine King and Clarence Valley Council Mayor Jim Simmons.
MONEY PROMISED: Page Labor candidate Patrick Deegan, Federal Shadow Health Minister Catherine King and Clarence Valley Council Mayor Jim Simmons. Jarrard Potter

Between 2005 and 2017, the existing helipad at the Hospital, which was built by the Rotary Club of Maclean, ensured direct helicopter transfers to other hospitals.

But the helipad was closed in 2017 after an audit found that it did not meet new guidelines for heavier helicopters.

Ms King said the rotary club saw the need for a helicopter landing pad for the hospital, but it was disappointing to see the infrastructure was not upgraded to keep up with the demands needed for modern helicopters, especially those used by the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter service.

"I'm very pleased that after Patrick lobbying myself very heavily, lobbying Bill Shorten as well, I can announce that a future Shorten Labor Government will commit $750,000 to build a helipad at Maclean Hospital," Ms King said.



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