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(l-r) Iluka Bowls Club chairperson Col Curnow, John and Ann Maclean and bowls club general manager Nicola Donsworth. Image: Contributed

Iluka ambulance station: ‘people power got us over the line’

Geoff Helisma Iluka’s bid for an ambulance station was initially knocked back by the bureaucracy because the town wasn’t deemed large enough to qualify. But thanks to people power, lobbying by Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and the support of NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro, the ‘coming soon’ promise materialised in the shape of a sign erected on the site last week. Iluka residents Ann and John Maclean kicked off the campaign in November 2016. By July 2017 the couple had collected more than 11,000 signatures on a petition, with the help of willing supporters. The petition was tabled in the NSW Parliament in February 2018. In June 2019, it was announced that the ambulance station would be funded in this term of government. In June this year, Iluka Bowls Club members were unanimous in their decision to sell land to the NSW Government, to enable the construction of an ambulance station. Last week, a sign was erected on the site, which is beside the bowling club car park on the edge of the sporting fields, declaring the new ambulance station is “coming soon”. Campaigner Ann Maclean said the progress being made is “terrific”. “The ambulance station should be completed in this term of government,” she said. “That’s what the people need and deserve, and what the government will deliver. Ms Maclean said she was grateful that the bowls club had come forward with the offer of the land. “If they hadn’t … we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in today – they benefit from it and so does the community,” she said. “And NSW Ambulance realised it was an ideal position, with the helicopter able to land right there next to the sport fields. “Without the community’s support we couldn’t have done it – people power is what got us over the line; the community and extended community have been behind us 100 per cent.” The club’s chairperson, Col Curnow, said the process had been “very good, all positive”, from the club’s perspective. “The community is very thankful that we will have an ambulance station in the in the future,” he said. “People see it as positive; and with the location, it’ll be a visible structure right in the centre of town.” The opportunity to sell the land to benefit both the community and the club came at what proved to be an opportune time. “Particularly in light of circumstances regarding the Corona virus,” Mr Curnot said. “It will keep the club in a good financial position.”