Geoff Helisma |
In December last year, Deputy Premier John Barilaro made a declaration to the people gathered at the Iluka Bowling Club: the promised ambulance station “is not an election commitment; win, lose or draw, the only thing that will stop this is another government that doesn’t want to build a station here”.
Last week the NSW Government’s budget papers listed the ambulance station as an election promise on a page titled ‘Record Health Building Boom to Continue in New South Wales’.
The good news, however, is that the ambulance station (estimated to cost $10million) will be built.
Ann and John McLean, who spearheaded the Iluka Ambulance Action Group’s campaign, said the “group and the residents of Iluka and Woombah [are] delighted to hear the news”.
“It is definitely what we all needed to hear, as some residents were getting a little sceptical as to whether it was really going to happen,” Ms McLean said.
“Mr Gulaptis has promised that there is a business case being put together and they will be looking for suitable sites for the ambulance station.
“There have been many serious cases in Iluka and surrounds where response times have been extreme due to the lack of available ambulances in the area.
“People are dying and this makes this station in Iluka more essential sooner than later.”
The budget papers list the ambulance station as commencing “prior to March 2023” – the Independent asked Mr Gulaptis for some detail regarding its construction, asking: ‘What is Chris doing to bring the project to a speedy commencement?’
Meanwhile, Mr Gulaptis had sought and received confirmation from Health Minister Brad Hazard, who assured Mr Gulaptis in a letter dated June 12 that “the NSW Government remains committed to delivering this project”.
Mr Gulaptis provided the following statement: “A number of rural ambulance stations are being delivered as part of the $122 Rural Ambulance Reconfiguration (RAIR) program.
“This ensures a coordinated approach to delivering multiple small projects and avoids duplication of overhead costs when they are all delivered separately.
“The significant expertise gained through the RAIR program will be used to support the delivery of the new Iluka ambulance station.
“In 2019-20, detailed service planning will progress; site acquisitions studies will be finalised and a suitable site acquired, subject to the findings of these studies.
“Design will be finalised and a development application submitted.
“Construction is anticipated to commence in 2020-21, following tendering and awarding of the work.
“The construction timeframe is estimated to take about two years to complete.
“The project will include usual stakeholder consultation and community engagement, supported by project communications to keep stakeholders informed.
“The Deputy Premier kept his promise to return to Iluka before last Christmas, with an answer for the community regarding the ambulance station, and announced that the ambulance station would be funded, regardless of whether the NSW Liberals and Nationals were re-elected at the state election in March – meaning it was not just an election commitment.
“The NSW Government is honouring that commitment and the Iluka ambulance station will be funded in this term of government.”