Greens Ballina MP Tamara Smith has described a state government offer giving Byron council 28 days to find the funds buy back the Mullumbimby Hospital site as ‘a cruel irony’.
She said, the Liberal- National government ‘closed Mullumbimby’s hospital… dissolved the trust that had managed the hospital land bequeathed by Mullumbimby ancestors to the community… appropriate[d] the land – and now they say that the community can buy the land.’
‘This government literally sold the farm and got billions of dollars in poles and wire infrastructure and from privatising community assets. Now it expects the local council to pay to keep the land.
‘Our message is you’re not giving us back the land. The land belongs to the community. Full stop,’ Ms Smith said.
Consultation assurances ignored
Ms Smith said that in 2015 then health minister Jillian Skinner assured residents that they would be consulted about the future of the hospital site – but no consultation ever took place.
‘[On Sunday] we were told we have 28 days to cobble a plan together; the NSW government doesn’t seem to realise that community consultation takes time,’ Ms Smith said.
‘In November 2015 I took a petition from the Mullumbimby community to NSW Parliament asking that the Mullumbimby and District War Memorial Hospital land stay in public hands for needs identified by the community – such as aged care facilities and affordable housing.
‘The health minister at the time, Jillian Skinner, responded to my representations in writing that ‘Northern NSW Local Health will consult with the community about the future utilisation of this site prior to finalising a position.’
‘No such consultation has taken place. There has been no consultation with the community about the future of this site and now a deadline of 28 days has been imposed on Byron Shire Council to decide what should be done.’
She described the 28-day period as ‘a ridiculous amount of time.’
‘Other successful sites where communities and the state have worked together have taken up to two years to properly consult about a consensus project,’ Ms Smith said.
Photos Jeff Dawson
Greens north coast MLC Dawn Walker said the release of the report into the asbestos at the hospital was long overdue.
‘The Mullumbimby Hospital Action Group has been requesting this report for many months, but it took 300 people marching in the streets on Sunday before it was finally made public,’ said Ms Walker.
‘The Mullumbimby community have said they would like aged care services and affordable housing to be considered for the site. They want to be consulted about the future of their hospital site, it needs to be kept in local control for local services.’