Chris Gulaptis
Chris Gulaptis

Poll stoush over hospital funding

THE Nationals candidate for the Clarence by-election, Chris Gulaptis, has been caught out with claims the State Government has stumped up $9 million for Grafton Base Hospital says an opponent.

Following his preselection on Sunday, Mr Gulaptis included a figure of $9 million for Grafton Base Hospital among "hundreds of millions of dollars" the Nationals had directed toward the Valley since the March State election.

The chairman of the hospital Medical Staff Council, Allan Tyson, questioned the claim on Monday and yesterday the Country Labor candidate Peter Ellem accused Mr Gulaptis of "overstretching" with the claim.

"Mr Gulaptis, either through ignorance or incompetence, is inappropriately claiming credit for Grafton Base Hospital funding provided by the Commonwealth and former State Labor governments last year," Mr Ellem said.

"I'm calling on Mr Gulaptis to provide the budget details of his claim - where is the $9 million for Grafton Base Hospital?

"If it is the same $6 million from the Commonwealth and the $4 million announced by the former Labor State government, Mr Gulaptis should apologise for misleading the local community.

The claim has also angered Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin, who worked hard to make sure the money came to the hospital during the 2010 Federal election campaign.

"I'm furious that someone can try and take credit for something they had nothing to do with," Ms Saffin said.

"What he's saying is wrong in fact and wrong in any sort of insinuation.

"And to attempt to blame Steve (Cansdell) left me speechless.

"I never saw any such release and I know Steve never tried to claim anything like this. He always said it was a good thing the hospital got that funding."

Mr Gulaptis defended his assertion yesterday, and upped it by $1 million.

"Over the course of the weekend I referred to the $10 million allocated to Grafton Hospital - one of many projects in the Clarence Electorate to receive funding in the 2011 State budget papers," Mr Gulaptis said in a prepared release.

"The NSW Government budget papers for the Liberal and Nationals' first State budget are clear and in black and white.

"There is a total of $10 million in COAG funding for Grafton Base Hospital, consisting of $4 million from the State Government and $6 million from the Federal Government.

"This is being delivered. It is not a promise from a former minister, nor an undertaking from a senior departmental officer but a hard-line item with funding from both the Federal and State governments to improve health infrastructure for the people of Clarence.

"Many State Labor health promises over the years were never delivered. The Nationals have actually handed down the funding for this project."



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