Local News

Where is the money?

With the State Budget due later this year, the Clarence Valley has still not been guaranteed funding for the promised $263M re-development of Grafton Base Hospital.

The re-development was promised in the lead-up to the 2019 state election by the Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and repeated earlier this year by Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Mr Gulaptis is on record as saying construction will commence in the current term of government. Spokesman for the Grafton Hospital Community Committee Ron Bell says he doesn’t know where the Grafton project now stands with news this week that the Premier made a special trip to the Illawarra Region to announce $700M for re-development of the Shoalhaven Hospital.

Mr Bell says Mr Gulaptis said he “expects to see” planning money allocated in state budget which has now been further delayed until November. Mr Bell says “expecting to see” planning money is not very reassuring for the Clarence community that the project will go ahead. He says the necessary funds for the planning stage need to be made available now as the promised project was already eighteen months behind time.

Mr Bell says the Grafton Base Hospital has passed its ‘use-by’ date and the Clarence valley residents and the dedicated staff at the Grafton Base Hospital deserved a twenty-first century health facility just like Coffs Harbour, Lismore and other regional centres. He says this is evidenced by the fact that the new Clarence Correctional Centre whilst currently being at only 25% capacity is already utilising beds and medical facilities at the Grafton Base many times more than had been indicated by the operator prior to its opening. Mr Bell says if this trend continues it could mean local residents will have to vie with prison inmates for the available beds.

Meantime, Mr Bell says members of the Hospital Community Committee have been encouraged by the public support for their campaign to remind the Member for Clarence and the Premier of their promise to provide $263M for the hospital re-development.

A large banner was erected at Weiley’s Corner on the Prince/Pound Streets intersection featuring caricatures of the Premier and the local member reminding them of their promise. To further promote the campaign for government funding, window stickers have been produced for local businesses to show their support for the public campaign.