A key rival of Kiama MP Gareth Ward was taken aback by his “unnecessary stunt” involving hospital funding.
Mr Ward introduced a bill to NSW parliament, which will provide $434 million in upgrades to Shoalhaven Hospital. The bill was laced with a caveat in the third part, which asked MPs in support of the motion to condemn NSW Labor including Labor candidates for Kiama and South Coast for failing to support the upgrade of Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital.
South Coast Labor Candidate and Shoalhaven Councillor Annette Alldrick told 2ST part three was the primary reason her elected Labor Party peers voted against it while parliament was sitting in November.
Mr Ward and his ally South Coast MP Shelley Hancock then released a number of statements via Facebook, Twitter and email complaining about Labor’s “opposition” to funding local hospital upgrades.
“The battle lines are now drawn,” Mr Ward said via a press statement.
“Labor has voted against the Shoalhaven Hospital upgrade. Their priorities are elsewhere.”
Cr Alldrick told 2ST that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The Labor Party hasn’t rejected the funding of this upgrade, yes we haven’t yet committed to it, we want to do due diligence...make sure $434 million of taxpayers’ money is going to be spent in the right way,” she said.
“It’s something I’m working very hard on. I’ve spoken with doctors, who have indicated to me the master plan (for the upgrade) is what is needed. Certainly the Shadow Minister for Health and the Shadow Treasurer are very serious about looking into it, they haven't discounted it.
“I’m waiting for an announcement, I’m confident it will happen (before the election).”
On election day in March, Cr Alldrick would need a significant swing to nab the safe Liberal seat from Ms Hancock, who is the Speaker of the House and has held the seat for 15 years.
Cr Alldrick said she’s not resting on her laurels, despite the ALP’s landslide victory in the recent Victorian election indicating a nation-wide distaste for Liberal Party antics in Canberra.
“The hospital could be a deal-breaker (in the election),” Cr Alldrick said.
Cr Alldrick, who has worked as a nurse for 41 years, defended herself against Ms Hancock’s claim that she hasn’t put the effort in to fight for upgrades at Shoalhaven Hospital.
“During my 15 years at Shoalhaven Hospital I was the union representative and have worked tirelessly to fix that hospital up and make that hospital worthy for the nurses of the South Coast,” she said.
“Absolutely the hospital has been upgraded over that time, they built a rapid assessment zone in emergency. And until I brought this to their attention last year it was only staffed during the day, it wasn't staffed at night despite there constantly being patients in there overnight. Now it’s staffed overnight.
“I can assure you I was responsible for negotiating with management to get the pediatric bay staffed overnight.”