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Byron Shire
January 17, 2022

Role of health minister in selection of Tweed Hospital site questioned

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Questions over the role that health minister Brad Hazzard played in ruling out the current Tweed Hospital site for redevelopment have been raised by Tweed Shire councillor Chris Cherry. Questions have also been raised in the NSW parliament this week by Greens health spokesperson Dawn Walker MP.

‘As a councillor, I was involved in the community group feeding back to Health Infrastructure during the extended time for consideration of alternative sites,’ said councillor Cherry.

‘The community had identified Kings Forest, Chinderah and the current Tweed Hospital site for further investigation.

‘After we had given the three preferred community sites as alternatives to examine, Health Infrastructure said the Minister had ruled the current Tweed Heads hospital site out. Brad Hazzard had said no. They did a basic comparison but didn’t look at the site properly as an option.’

The fertile red soil of Cudgen. Photo supplied.

MP Dawn Walker has said in parliament that the government are ignoring their own development strategies. 

The government’s own North Coast Regional Plan identifies the growth precinct for the region’s health services at the current Tweed Hospital site, yet they continue to ignore their own strategy and build the new hospital on the precious red soils of Cudgen Plateau’, she said.

‘In March 2017, less than three months before the announcement of the new hospital, there was no mention of the new development in the region’s Local Health District board meeting. The minutes note that they were awaiting formal confirmation of fully funding the redevelopment of the existing Tweed Heads Hospital. It’s clear that something has gone astray.’

Councillor Cherry believes that the siting of the new Tweed Hospital has become a political football rather than a process looking for the best solution for the region and the community it serves.

Commenting on the Tweed Hospital community reference group’s final feedback meeting with Health Infrastructure, councillor Cherry said, ‘What is disappointing is that they had already made a decision. We asked at the meeting about when the Minister would be making the decision, and Health Infrastructure representatives said they “were not at liberty to say”, yet they had obviously alerted the Tweed Daily News about their decision that afternoon.’

Denied by HI

Health Infrastructure have denied the allegations, telling Echonetdaily that, ‘A robust assessment process of over 50 sites was undertaken, informed by advice from independent expert advisors and the whole process was overseen by an independent probity advisor.

‘The recommendations from the assessment process were endorsed through the project governance structure prior to the minister for health confirming the selected site,’ said a Health Infrastructure spokesperson.

‘The recommendation that the “brownfield option” should not be shortlisted due to a number of deficiencies against the assessment criteria was endorsed through the project governance structure and did not involve the minister in any way.’

Government ignores calls to redevelop the existing site

While Labor have come out in favour of the Kings Forest site the Greens have moved a motion calling on the NSW Government to redevelop the existing Tweed Heads Hospital at Tweed Heads.

There is a lot of infrastructure built around the current site,’ said councillor Cherry.

‘A lot of people have settled there to be close to the hospital. This is a decision that will impact a lot of people’s lives.’

However according to Ms Walker ‘the minister for primary industries has confirmed in parliament that the government are ploughing ahead with site acquisition and the planning application process for a new hospital at Cudgen, despite acknowledging that it’s categorised as State Significant Farmland under the Northern Rivers Farmland Protection Project 2005.

‘It’s appalling that the National Party have sold out local farmers with their plans to concrete over the fertile farmland on the Cudgen Plateau and push for intense development on our food producing land,’ said Ms Walker.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. There was no mention in March 2017….
    OK then in April there were massive floods in 2017 – the whole regions flooding data got re-written (as has Gold Coast region in mid 2018) – this resulted in expected sea level rise and climate change flooding to be 0.8 metres higher than previously thought.

    This new data – all but eliminates the current hospital site at Tweed Heads – sorry GREENs – do you believe in climate change and scientists and experts??? – don’t lie I know you do. You just facts mean nothing in this debate.

    If the soil is so important – why dont the government offer it free to any Tweed resident to come and take to have a veggie patch in their backyard? then this soil transplant will mean the soil is not dead and veggies are still grown – but we have a new hospital also. I put my hand up to go get some of that soil. Thousands more would too if it is free before the concrete gets poured on that ONE location.

    No other land is hopefully going to be rezoned – lets not exaggerate this debate. It has only been about finding one flood free location for a new hospital

  2. The NSW Government is simply trying to move The Tweed Hospital as far south of the Queensland – NSW border as possible to eliminate patients coming from the southern Qld Gold Coast and thus reduce costs.
    Cross border issues have plagued our area for more than thirty years.
    My colleagues attended meetings for 25 years to enable blood supplies from Red Cross ( an Australia wide facility) to come from Brisbane to Northern NSW instead of from Sydney to enable rapid appropriate availability of blood products for patients. It was only in about 2013 the Red Cross and health representatives finally allowed this change. This decision was finally made when ” Red Cross realized it was less costly to move the blood products from Brisbane rather than Sydney”.

    The siting of the new hospital is all about reducing patient numbers. TTH has the busiest Emergency Department in NSW outside Sydney.

    The old Southern Cross University site across the road from TTH could have been purchased cheaply as a development site for TTH, but the Shire Council took the site……
    The Council requirement for two large multi-storey car parks to be built on the SE and NW corners of the current site also reduced the available space for building new blocks of operating theatres, wards, ED, Pharmacy, Radiology, Pathology etc.

    And does anyone really believe the Government will spend $534,000,000 on a hospital as close to Byron & Murwillumbah as Cudgen, especially when this will reduce patient numbers from SE Qld?

  3. Did the Tweed Hospital flood in those floods in 2017….NO….I hate to say it the Greens are right redevelop the current Tweed Hospital….the majority of Tweeds population is on the north side of the Tweed River…and it will continue to be the case as far as population estimates go out ….2036. Dont forget Cobaki Lakes is going to be massive

  4. It only takes minor to medium flooding before the Cudgen site will be isolated from the major populations of Tweed Shire, including Tweed Heads. Not bright planning for emergency infrastructure.

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