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On the first day of Christmas: Deputy Premier John Barilaro (left) and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis (right) were popular supporters of the Iluka community’s desire for an ambulance station. John and Ann McLean are also wearing campaign t-shirts. Image: Contributed (digitally altered).

The ultimate Christmas gift: an ambulance station for Iluka

Geoff Helisma | Around 350 supporters of establishing an ambulance station in Iluka turned out at the Iluka Bowling Club last Thursday November 8 – seemingly, their collective wish is about to come true. Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, who has actively supported the campaign, bolstered their optimism in his subsequent media release. “It took less than 30 minutes for the Iluka community to convince NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro that it warrants an ambulance station,” Mr Gulaptis said. Initiators and coordinators of the campaign, Ann and John McLean, put it in this context on the Iluka Ambulance Action Group’s Facebook page: “Well, we got the message across yesterday. “It was a great turnout and John and I would like to thank everyone [who was] at the bowling club to support us. “Looking forward to John Barilaro’s return to see what he has to offer. “Fingers crossed that it will be good news. “[We] will let everyone know soon as we have a date [for the next meeting].” Mr Gulaptis said Mr Barilaro had acknowledged that “the community had done a terrific job in clearly articulating its case”. “[He] gave them an undertaking he would go away and examine the data and come back to meet with them before Christmas. “John is a man of his word.” But the deal is not done: Mr Barilaro has only made a promise to return with an answer to the Iluka community’s plea. “When he makes a promise you can be guaranteed he will keep it,” Mr Gulaptis said. “John is a mover and shaker and a champion of regional NSW and I’m confident he will do all he can within government to try to get an ambulance station for Iluka. Mr Gulaptis congratulated “John and Ann McLean for galvanising the Iluka community on such a vital matter, and [I] thank the community for coming out in droves to help secure this critical health service for Iluka.” After the meeting, Ann McLean spoke with some of the people who attended. “The majority of people had the perception … that when John Barilaro comes back we could end up with a positive outcome,” she said. Meanwhile, the government’s first suggestion, to establish a volunteer first responder service in the town, was not mentioned at the meeting.