Tweed MP Geoff Provest (Nationals) has cast doubt on claims by federal Richmond MP Justine Elliot (ALP) that Labor’s preferred site for the new Tweed Hospital is ‘shovel ready’.
In the latest of a series of increasingly heated statements from the two pollies, Mr Provest said the proposed Kings Forest site is still subject to state approval of a new Koala Plan of Management.
Mr Provest said the department of planning and environment (DoPE) was ‘currently finalising its assessment of a revised Koala Plan of Management for Kings Forest. The proposal seeks to increase the amount of koala habitat to be removed from the site and change the koala offset and management obligations’.
He added that ‘over 2,000 public submissions have been received by the DoPE objecting to the proposal, highlighting the site is far from shovel-ready’.
‘The department has asked the proponent to respond to the issues raised. Once the DoPE has finalised its assessment of the proposal, it will be referred to the Independent Planning Commission for determination. The Commission will hold a public before determining the proposal.’
Mr Provest said ‘it might interest Mrs Elliot to know that, in a bizarre twist, it is actually Kings Forest that would require further approval from the Commonwealth Environment Department under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in order to build a hospital, due to a mapped area of high koala activity adjacent to the site proposed.
‘The frequency of the Labor Party’s misleading claims regarding development and planning processes is far from coincidental,’ Mr Provest said.
Agenda to delay construction
‘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 said.
While she did not respond to the allegation of favouring developers, Ms Elliot has batted back the claims – and accused Mr Provest of bullying.
Yesterday she called on Mr Provest ‘and his National Party mates’ to ‘stop telling lies and stop the bullying’.
‘Geoff Provest should start doing his job instead of telling outright lies and launching personal bullyboy attacks against women in public life.
‘It’s no wonder there are no women representing the Nationals on the North Coast – these people are outright nasty bullies.
‘I stand with our community in fighting to save our state significant Cudgen farmlands while building a better, faster and on budget hospital at Kings Forest.
‘The fact is Kings Forest is shovel ready and properly zoned for a hospital.
‘My job as a local MP is to stand up for our community on the issues that are important to us and I won’t be silenced by National Party bullies,’ Ms Elliot said.