The NSW Labor Party has upped the ante in its bid to win the state seat of Ballina, promising a $7.3 million upgrade of Ballina hospital and $30 million for local schools.
And it will be done without selling the electricity network, as proposed by the Liberal/Nationals coalition.
Labor leader Luke Foley said the $7.3 million would be used to build a brand new operating theatre, and upgrade the emergency department at Ballina hospital.
The investment would ensure the operating theatre meets the national standard in terms of size. The federal government has already committed $4.5 million towards the works and Labor’s promised investment would ensure the job was completed to national standards.
Ballina mayor David Wright told Echonetdaily that the promised funding was ‘brilliant news’.
‘I don’t care where the funds come from so long as the job is done,’ Cr Wright said,
Labor leader Luke Foley, when making the announcement, said ‘providing quality healthcare to the sick and injured in our communities should always be a top priority of any government’.
“It will be a top priority of a Foley Labor government.’
Labor candidate Paul Spooner welcomed the announcement.
‘I’ve been listening to local health experts and advocates about getting the health infrastructure at Ballina Hospital right – that’s why a Labor government will provide the additional funding needed to build a state-of-the-art operating theatre that will provide quality surgical care for decades to come,’ he said.
‘The North Coast is a very attractive place for empty nesters, sea and tree changers but that means we need to have the resources in place to support the health needs of older Australians who will be spending their retirement years in the region.
‘The NSW Liberals and Nationals have spent the last four years slashing the health budget by $3 billion and Tony Abbott intends to cut another $15 billion from our health system on top of that.
‘Only a Labor Government will invest in our health system and work with doctors and nurses to provide the best quality health care we can for our people.’
On the promise of setting aside $30 million to upgrade Ballina High School and Southern Cross School, Mr Foley took a swipe at the Liberal/Nationals plan to build a super school.
‘The local community has made it clear they just want improvements to the existing schools they know and love, not be forced into an amalgamation of high schools,’ Mr Foley said.
‘Labor will protect these two local schools, and having listened to community concerns, will provide these schools with state of the art facilities to give our kids the learning environment they deserve.
‘As part of these upgrades, Labor will investigate options for Southern Cross School’s dedicated distance education teachers to be located in a genuine facility together, rather than the current situation where these teachers are separated at different sites. ‘
Cr Wright told Echonetdaily that he was pleased that both major parties had made significant promises to improve education facilities in Ballina.
He said it was imperative that parents, teachers and students were involved in the final outcome.
‘Ballina has needed a great input of funds for a long time. Public education needs a lot more funding and if it comes about as a result of election promises then that will be a good thing,’ he said.
Cr Wright said the other big ticket item for Ballina was the Marine Rescue Tower, which needed a million dollars to build.