NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley (centre).
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley (centre).

Labor’s $7 million promise for Grafton Hospital

NEW South Wales Opposition Leader Luke Foley has promised a $7 million Ambulatory Care facility at Grafton Base Hospital as part of his launch of Labor's North Coast campaign.

The boost to outpatient care was part of an extensive list of commitments to the region, which has been an important focus of the Opposition's campaign ahead of the March 28 election.

Labor's opposition to the partial privatisation of the electricity network and its determination to ban coal seam gas mining in the Northern Rivers were the key points of Mr Foley's speech.

He confirmed yesterday's announcement by the ALP's candidate for Clarence Trent Gilbert that the party would commit to spending $177 million to build a second Grafton bridge despite not having the funds from leasing the electricity network.

The Ambulatory Care at Grafton Hospital would be vital to residents of the Clarence Valley.

"Currently, there is a range of outpatient clinics at the hospital, operating out of a variety of different facilities," Mr Foley said.

"A number of these are in antiquated facilities which do not support contemporary practice. The physiotherapy outpatient clinic is the busiest in the hospital.

"A centralised Ambulatory Care facility will house a renal dialysis unit, physiotherapy services, occupational therapy services, diabetes care, a fracture clinic, paediatrics and podiatry.

"The purpose-built ambulatory care facility will be approximately 1500 square metres on the north-western section of the Grafton Base Hospital campus."

On the issue of the second bridge, Mr Foley contrasted Labor's approach with that of the government.

"Mike Baird and Troy Grant have told the people of Grafton, cop the privatisation of electricity and we will buy you off with a bridge," he said.

"The people of Grafton shouldn't have to make that choice. The Nationals shouldn't be blackmailing the people of the region.

"And Labor will not play this game. Labor has confirmed that as part of our $10 billion infrastructure plan we will reserve $177 million to build a second bridge over the Clarence in Grafton, and we will do it without privatising our electricity network."

Mr Foley said the decision to ban coal seam gas exploration and extraction on the North Coast was the result of Labor listening to the community and changing its past policy.

"Labor will declare a total ban on CSG and unconventional gas mining throughout the entire region - encompassing the Tweed, Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Kyogle, Richmond Valley and Clarence Valley local government areas.

"Let be me clear. Under a Labor Government, any company looking to mine for coal seam gas up here will be wasting their time.

"We will not allow them to operate here.

"The Nationals - Geoff Provest, Don Page, Thomas George and Chris Gulaptis - simply rolled over to the Liberals."

Minister for Roads and Freight and Minister for the North Coast Duncan Gay said Mr Foley was deceiving the Grafton community over the second crossing of the Clarence River.

"The truth is the Grafton Bridge is funded by the Liberals and Nationals through the state's dedicated infrastructure fund, Restart NSW, and work will be starting in coming weeks. 

"Construction of the Grafton Bridge has nothing whatsoever to do with poles and wires.

"Luke Foley is on the North Coast again playing more games with a bridge they had 16 years to build and stubbornly refused to start.

"Not to mention this is the same bridge Bob Carr promised he would build in 2004 and Labor did nothing.

"Unlike former Labor governments our election commitments are non-negotiable and while Labor is out there deceiving the people of Grafton."

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