Grafton joins long hospital queue
A MAJOR hospital upgrade looks to be a while off as the Clarence Valley joins the long queue of regions promised big projects at the New South Wales election.
The $263million commitment to the Grafton Base Hospital redevelopment was made in the final weeks of the campaign in March and is just one of many major infrastructure promises outlined in the 2019-20 Budget Papers.
However, there there was no specific line item in the 2019-20 Budget and Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis was quick to point out it would take time.
"It's not a line item as such as we are still in the very early planning stages but there is a commitment for works to commence during this term of government,” he said.
"In the meantime, consultation needs to occur between the LHD, clinicians and the community to ensure the redeveloped hospital is able to provide for the community into the future.”
Mr Gulaptis said he had received assurances from Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Treasurer Dominic Perrotet and Deputy Premier John Barilaro that all election commitments would be honoured and provided a letter from Health Minister Brad Hazzard responding to representations he made after winning the election.
In the letter, Mr Hazzard said the project was one of many promised but work would still start before the end of the current term of parliament.
"In the period prior to the March election, the NSW Government announced a significant number of upgrades to hospital and health facilities across the state,” he said.
"This requires a prioritisation of when projects will commence over the next four years and will occur in alignment with the annual budget process.
"Once funding is made available through the budget process, Health Infrastructure will work with the local health district and clinical staff to progress the project through the planning stages.”
Labor MLC Courtney Houssos was less convinced and said the papers revealed there would be no money to start construction until after the election.
"If you go to an election saying you are going to deliver something, then you should deliver it,” she said.
"Some of the health projects promised in the past have been pushed out for 10 years.”