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Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis met with Deputy Premier John Barilaro at Grafton Base Hospital recently. Image: Contributed

Grafton hospital scoops budget pool

Geoff Helisma |

Last week’s NSW budget is the last before next year’s election, scheduled for Saturday March 23. As far as the valley is concerned, Clarence MP announced that his party, the Nationals, had secured an “extra $10.5 million” to upgrade Grafton Base Hospital”.

He said “a new purpose-built care centre to offer renal dialysis, chemotherapy, physiotherapy, as well as occupational and speech therapy services,” would be constructed.
“I have been fighting for this ambulatory care unit for some time and [the] budget includes an extra $10.5 million to fully fund the project, bringing the total to $17.5 million,” Mr Gulaptis said in a media release.
“The improvements will also include the full scope for the physiotherapy and outpatient departments, and the full fit-out of the oncology unit.”
Mr Gulaptis said his “next health priority is securing the funds needed for a total rebuild of Grafton Base Hospital”.
“A new helipad at Maclean Hospital is also very much on my radar,” he said.
“I raised both of these projects with the deputy premier during his recent visit to the Clarence Valley.
“They are both high priority health projects that I am confident will be funded.”
Apart from this funding and “lock[ing] in funding to complete major local projects like the Pacific Highway duplication, the new Grafton bridge [and] Australia’s largest gaol”, Mr Gulaptis highlighted other state-wide budget initiatives such as the $1billion boost in recurrent funding for the health system, which, he said, will pay for an extra 950 nurses and midwives, 300 doctors and 120 allied health workers; and an extra 750 paramedics and ambulance call centre staff.
He highlighted “more support for expectant mothers and more midwives”.
“New South Wales will become the first Australian state to provide universal access to community preschool for three-year-olds, which will see average daily fees decrease significantly,” he said.
“For school age kids, $100 vouchers to cover the cost of children’s sport have been extended to creative classes including music, drama, visual arts, coding and languages.”
He said that the government will spend $500million on air conditioning classrooms across the state [including the Clarence Valley] and employ 900 extra full time teachers, “as part of a record $15 billion spend”.
“I want our local school leavers to take advantage of 100,000 free apprenticeships delivered in this budget,” he said.
“And it will be easier for them to find a job [following the] lifting the payroll tax threshold for small business from $750,000 to $1million.”
On electricity prices, he said: “We already introduced a range of rebates and now Service NSW will be actively searching for better energy deals for consumers, which could help a typical household save more than $1,000 a year.”

An average household in NSW spends between $1,756 and $2,172 on electricity annually, according to consumer review and comparison website Canstar Blue.