It appears that the valley will have to wait until the NSW Budget is released “later in the year”, to ascertain how firm the NSW Government’s commitment is to the redevelopment of Grafton Base Hospital (GBH).
At the March Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, councillors unanimously supported writing to the NSW Premier, Deputy Premier, Treasurer, Minister for Health and Medical Research and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, “asking that the election commitment of $263.8 million for the redevelopment of the Grafton Base Hospital (GBH) be honoured and included in the 2020/21 state budget”.
Meanwhile, the Grafton Base Hospital Community Committee (GBHC) began a campaign in June, “seeking the immediate allocation of the necessary funding for planning work” for the hospital’s proposed $263.8million redevelopment.
On Wednesday July 22, the committee erected a banner in Grafton’s city centre asking, “Where’s the money Premier?”
The GBHC’s chair, Ron Bell, estimated that “a minimum of $30m to $40m was needed for the planning work” and that the redevelopment “was at least a ten-year project from beginning to end”.
While Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis maintains that “all election commitments will be met”, both he and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazard have only said that “there is a commitment for works to commence during this term of government”.
In his response to CVC’s request, Mr Gulaptis writes that he has “received assurances from the Premier that all election commitments will be honoured” and that Mr Hazzard had “reaffirmed there is a commitment for works to commence during this term of government”.
Mr Hazzard also responded to CVC’s request and wrote: “As council would know and understand, appropriate planning is critical to the construction of any project and especially one as significant as the redevelopment of Grafton Base Hospital.
“Building hospitals and healthcare facilities is a complex operation.
“More information is at health infrastructure’s website
“The election commitment was to confirm that the government would progress the planning for the redevelopment of GBH, in addition to the $17.5million already invested in the current … delivery of the new$ 17.5m Ambulatory Care Centre.
“Health Infrastructure will work with the Northern NSW Health District and clinical staff to progress the project through the planning stages.
“This will include extensive consultation with stakeholders, including council, to ensure the project meets the needs of health professionals, services and the community.”
Mayor Jim Simmons said he supported the Grafton Base Hospital Community Committee’s “endeavours to try and get a commitment from the government” to include the project in the budget”.