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Byron Shire
April 16, 2024

AJP’s Susie Hearder

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Susie Hearder is running for the seat of Tweed.

Animal Justice Party (AJP) candidate Susie Hearder responds to The Echo’s questions on building on State Significant Farmland (SSF), free parking at the Tweed Valley Hospital and what the future for the old Tweed Hospital might be. 

To see Ms Hearder’s response on short-term holiday letting and floodplain development click here.

Proposed site for the $250m health and education development ‘Cudgen Connection’ on State Significant Farmland. Photo Jeff Dawson

Will you give an unequivocal guarantee to protect the remaining Cudgen State Significant Farmland including any attempts to rezone for non-agricultural purposes, such as those proposed by the ‘Cudgen Connection’?

I ran as a candidate in the 2019 election and campaigned strongly against the hospital being built on State Significant Farmland as healthy plant based food plays a major part in staying healthy and keeping people out of hospitals. I will give an unequivocal guarantee to protect the remaining Cudgen SSF including attempts to rezone it for non-agricultural purposes. 

No surprises, we knew that approval on this site would not stop there and would lead to demands for further development on adjoining SSF. The almost-established new hospital is one step towards comprehensive health services in the Tweed and must meet the needs of the area but it does not meet the Tweed population in general, particularly the elderly and disabled and during times of flooding. A medical precinct needs to serve all the community but not by taking away land to grow fresh food. Preventative health is paramount.

Tweed Valley Hospital construction. Photo supplied

Will you honour the commitment made at the last State Election to provide free parking at the TVH?

Yes, it is essential to have free parking at the Tweed Valley Hospital and all hospitals. 

What commitments will you make to mitigating the impact of the TVH’s identified 5,500 additional daily traffic movements on local communities eg substantial free parking, regular and timely shuttle bus service, and enhanced public transport?

I agree that there should be substantial free parking, regular and timely shuttle services and enhanced public transport and particularly catering to the elderly and disabled. 

To minimise the impact on the climate, transport/buses need to be climate-friendly such as electric shuttle buses. I would ensure a robust government-funded traffic survey in conjunction with Tweed Shire Council was undertaken to verify accuracy and include community consultation about what are the most preferred, viable, and cost-effective options to minimise the impact of the increased traffic with wildlife-safe road options included. Free shuttle services need to be fully funded by government and not place an extra burden on community volunteer organisations. 

Tweed Hospital. Source: Hospitalstays.com.au

Will you honour the commitment made at the last State Election to keep The Tweed Hospital open and operating as a hospital?

Yes, it is imperative that both the existing Tweed Hospital and the Murwillumbah Hospitals remain open and service those communities, particularly for the elderly and disabled who may have moved to live in proximity of those facilities and also in times of flood could be left stranded.

Wherever any future medical precinct is built it should not impact State Significant or Regionally Significant Farmland, be built on flood-impacted land, koala habitat/corridors or ecologically sensitive land. I would strongly oppose the inclusion of any animal experimentation facilities.

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