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Byron Shire
June 14, 2021

Arguments reach boiling point over Tweed Hospital siting

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Greens MLC Dawn Walker. Photo supplied

Chris Dobney

The contentious siting of the future Tweed Valley Hospital continues to raise questions, this time from Greens MP and health spokesperson Dawn Walker, who raised the issue in state parliament last week.

The questions come amid tit-for-tat allegations of favours for mates over the hospital site from local Nats and ALP representatives Geoff Provest and Justine Elliot.

During a sitting of the upper house last Thursday, Ms Walker questioned the NSW Government over their plans to compulsorily acquire land at Cudgen for the new hospital.

Primary industries minister Niall Blair told parliament that, ‘The hospital location on the far north-eastern tip of the agricultural area will not fragment the Cudgen Plateau and should limit the flow-on impacts to other state-significant farmland.’

Failing to listen

But Ms Walker said ‘the Liberal-National government is failing to listen to regional communities like Tweed.

‘They are pushing ahead, wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars purchasing private land that the community wants to retain for agriculture, when they should be investing in re-developing the existing hospital site at Tweed Heads’ Ms Walker said.

‘Of the 23 hectares to be acquired, the government has admitted that approximately 70 per cent is agricultural land, 20 per cent is Nature Reserve and 10 per cent is residential.

‘It’s alarming that 90 per cent of this acquired land is currently being used for growing food and protecting wildlife, including endangered species like the wallum sedge frog, Mitchell’s rainforest snail, southern black-throated finch, grey-headed flying fox and koalas.

‘It should not be concreted over simply because we have a short-sighted government that doesn’t value state-significant farmland or nature.

Massive overdevelopment

‘I have grave concerns that locating the new hospital at Cudgen is the thin edge of the wedge and will result in the massive overdevelopment of Kingscliff and an economic downturn in Tweed Heads, which should remain as our regional health precinct.

‘If this project proceeds, the National Party will forever be remembered as the party who sold-out local farmers and pushed for intense development on our food producing land’ Ms Walker said.

National Party member for Tweed, Geoff Provest.

Developer donations queried

Meanwhile a further war of words has broken out between state Tweed MP Geoff Provest (Nationals) and federal Richmond MP Justine Elliot (Labor) over claims of favours for party donors.

In a statement released last week, Mr Provest said, ‘The frequency of the Labor Party’s misleading claims regarding development and planning processes is far from coincidental.

‘We are fully aware of the reasons why the Labor Party is pushing the Kings Forest site and frankly, this is why the NSW Labor government was voted out in the first place.

‘Labor has a clear agenda to delay construction of a new hospital for the Tweed, putting the interests of a major ALP donor ahead of those of local residents of the Tweed,’ Mr Provest siad.

While he did not name the identity of the claimed donor, the developer of Kings Forest, Leda Holdings, was named on a list of top 20 donors to Australian political parties in The Guardian in 2015.

The article does not mention which party or parties Leda donated money to, however Ms Elliot responded, ‘I have never received a donation from Leda. These outrageous lies by Geoff Provest are demonstrably untrue and baseless.

Justine Elliot Labor Federal MP for Richmond. Photo supplied.

‘It was NSW Labor that banned developers from making political donations in 2010.

‘Nationals MP Geoff Provest has shot himself in the foot by attacking Labor on 11-year-old donations after it was revealed that the Liberals in the same year, in 2007, received $25,000 from the same donor.

‘It was under the current NSW Liberal Nationals government period that ICAC Operation Spicer identified $666,992 in illegal donations to NSW Liberal Party MPs.

‘The recent Wagga Wagga state byelection was caused by the NSW Liberal MP Daryl Maguire’s admission to ICAC that he sought a dividend or bribe from a property developer.

Donor running consultations

‘But even more embarrassing is that Mr Provest must explain why the Berejiklian Government has a political donor running the current consultation process for the proposed Tweed Valley Hospital.

‘Peter Lawless and his company the Calcutta Group – who claims to be working for Health Infrastructure – was brought in by the Berejiklian Government to help convince the community to accept the Cudgen site handpicked by the Nationals.

‘Donation disclosures reveal Peter Lawless donated $1,000 to the then Liberal treasurer Andrew Constance during the 2015 NSW state election campaign,’ Ms Elliot said.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. If there is no problem, then why has construction been put back until next year because the price of the land is a contentious issue? The land can by compulsorily obtained by the government.
    Would not the price be a contentious issue because the amount paid determines other prices of blocks to be sold on the Cudgen plateau?

    “Primary industries minister Niall Blair told parliament that, ‘The hospital location on the far north-eastern tip of the agricultural area will not fragment the Cudgen Plateau and should limit the flow-on impacts to other state-significant farmland.’ “

    • The price is contentious because the site is currently valued at around $1.5 million, whereas the landholder paid $2 million. NSW Health is not required to pay more than the current value, so why would you put your block up at a loss – that’s the real question.

  2. The Greens have weighed into this unedifying bun fight with the common sense solution of replacing Tweed Hospital on the existing site. We all know that the National and Labor have the interests of their donor mates as their first priority and we the people always run a distant second (or third).
    By the way, didn’t Mr. Provest have to return more than a few illegal developer donations to his campaign for election in 2011?

  3. Interesting that the Primary Industries Minister Blair says that the new hospital location will not fragment the Cudgen Plateau. He is sticking exactly to the official script! What about fragmenting Kingscliff from Cudgen? What about making the former village of Kingscliff into the new regional city? “The location should limit the flow on impacts to other State Significant Farmland”.
    Really?
    Who do you think will believe this Mr Blair. Why don’t you come here to see the site for yourself? Failing that, watch the video on the website. relocatetweedvalleyhospital.org. under the heading, Why Farms Matter. It beggars belief that Sydney politicians, with the help of our local member Mr Provest, can detrimentally affect the future lifestyles of thousands of Tweed residents
    Kingscliff

    P

  4. Building the new hospital in the privately owned development at Kings Forest, as Labor proposes, opens the door to privatisation of the health care system. Our health care services should mostly remain in public hands.

  5. I dont really agree with the Greens generally but on this one I am behind Ms Walker 100%
    There is plenty of space at the current site of the Tweed Hospital to allow a large amount of redevelopment.
    My wife who until recently worked at the Hospital as a doctor says it is entirely unfeasible.
    She says patients, hospital staff, doctors and nurses and ambulances in emergencies, will be considerably disadvantaged by having to travel the extra distance that the Cudgen site relocate involves.
    The other theory is she maintains is that the numbers of patients coming across the border from Qld would be diverted to Robina Hospital and would save NSW Health a lot of money.

    • It’s a huge inconvenience to the patients and visitors to attend and have access to a hospital that is placed out of the Tweed Heads area. Many disadvantaged families will have trouble accessing it by the non existing public transport to the area. The placement of the current hospital is ideal however parking has always been an issue

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