The controversial original Kingscliff site for the Tweed Valley Hospital has been reconfirmed following a reselection process by NSW Health Infrastructure.
Health minister Brad Hazzard announced on Saturday (June 30) the new $534 million hospital would be sited on existing farmland opposite Kingscliff TAFE, ‘following extensive community feedback and support for the greenfield site’.
The state body was forced to go back to the drawing board after Tweed locals protested they’d had little chance for input prior to the original announcement and the site selection process lacked transparency.
Many also opposed the Kingscliff site, which sits on the state significant protected farmland of the Cudgen plateau.
The ALP announced meanwhile it was throwing its support behind an alternative site at Kings Forest. But that also had its critics including Tweed’s Team Koala, which said it straddled a koala corridor.
Three sites shortlisted
Minister Hazzard said that Health Infrastructure had shortlisted three sites ‘based on independent expert advice’ adding the assessment process was ‘overseen by an independent probity advisor’.
‘These three sites were assessed against the original evaluation criteria and this, along with community feedback, has confirmed that the proposed site opposite Kingscliff TAFE remains the best site for the new hospital.
‘The basis on which the Kingscliff (Cudgen) site has been chosen will be released to the community in an updated site selection report which [Health Infrastructure] will make public in the next week or so, after it has met the shortlisted landowners and briefed them on the assessment.’
Tweed MP Geoff Provest said ‘on behalf of the doctors and patients of the Tweed I am delighted that we can now get on with building our new Tweed Valley Hospital. From here on in it’s full steam ahead.’
‘During community engagement sessions, more than 600 people were spoken to, and nearly 700 written submissions were received. Around 50 per cent of people spoken to supported the Kingscliff site; a further 25 per cent were neutral; and the remaining 25 per cent opposed,’ he said.
Labor still unconvinced
The reselection process has not convinced the ALP, however, with the party’s Tweed candidate, Craig Elliot, calling it ‘a rotten decision by an out-of-touch government’.
‘No one has any faith in Geoff Provest, he has betrayed our community in selecting the Cudgen site over Kings Forest – “the people’s choice” for a new hospital,’ Mr Elliot said.
‘The NSW state election will be a referendum on the National Party’s plan to overdevelop Kingscliff by imposing a mega hospital on protected Cudgen farmland.
He added the government should hold off development on the site until after next March’s election.
‘The Nationals must put this to the people before proceeding any further on the protected Cudgen farmlands.
‘I call on the NSW Premier to come to a town hall meeting here in our community and explain her government’s decision to impose a hospital on state significant farmland,’ he said.
More information on the site is at www.tweedvalleyhospital.health.nsw.gov.au