A petition was presented to the upper house of the NSW parliament this week calling for the prime farmland on Cudgen Plateau to be protected and the new Tweed Valley Hospital to be built on an alternate site. Locals Hayley and James Paddon travelled to Sydney in support of the petition that was presented by NSW Greens MP and Health spokesperson, Dawn Walker.
The controversial proposal to build the new Tweed Valley Hospital on the state-significant farmland, supported by current Nationals Tweed MP Geoff Provest, on the Cudgen Plateau near Kingscliff has generated a strong debate over the decision. Issues have been raised regarding the fact that the land is already identified as state-significant farmland as well as the broader impact the development will have on the local Kingscliff community.
While the Nationals and Labor have been accusing one another of playing to the tune of party donors in relation to the sites they are supporting the Greens have put forward the alternative of re-developing the current site of the Tweed Hospital. They point out that the infrastructure and services are already in place to support the hospital at this site. It has also been highlighted that there are many people who have moved into close proximity to the hospital due to age and health concerns and shifting the hospital site will have a significant impact on them.
Labor have come out in favour of the Kings Forest location claiming that it is ‘shovel ready’ and that the infrastructure will be able to be developed around the hospital effectively. However, opponents claim that the fact the development is not yet built, the impact on koalas and other native species and the fact significant parts of the site are subject to flooding are detractors for this site.
‘The message to the government is clear. Our community wants the fertile red soils of the Cudgen Plateau retained for food production and the state government to find a different site for the new Tweed Hospital that’s not on state-significant farmland,’ said MP Dawn Walker.
‘I’m proud to stand with local farmers and community members and be their voice in parliament. Farmland is the new gold in an era of food insecurity and the fight to protect our local farmland is far from over.
‘The Liberal-National government is failing to listen to regional communities like Tweed. They are pushing ahead, wasting millions of taxpayers money purchasing private land that the community wants to retain for agriculture.
‘I congratulate the whole community for putting up a strong fight to protect this farmland.
‘If this project proceeds, the National Party will forever be remembered as the party that sold-out local farmers and concreted over our prime food producing farmland,’ said Ms Walker.