Hospital funding promises are healthy for conservative hopefuls
Barry O'Farrell ... $885 million to spend. Photo: Mike Sea
AT least three-quarters of the hospital funding announced by the Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, is destined for Coalition seats or those it is targeting at next month's election.
Coalition documents show it has included a $75 million upgrade of Port Macquarie Hospital, despite the expectation it will come from the federal government's $1.8 billion health and hospitals fund.
An analysis by the Herald shows that of the $885 million of new spending announced by Mr O'Farrell at the Liberals' campaign launch on Sunday, $652.5 million has been promised for hospital and health infrastructure in key Coalition seats.
The Coalition has promised to pour $117.5 million into projects in the seat of Dubbo, which the Nationals are trying to win from the independent Dawn Fardell.
It has promised $50 million for a staged redevelopment of Dubbo Hospital, $25 million for Forbes Hospital and $42.5 million towards a new hospital at Parkes.
The Nationals have high hopes in the seat for their candidate Troy Grant, a local police inspector, and have chosen Dubbo as the location for their campaign launch this weekend. In Tamworth - another independent-held seat being targeted by the Nationals - $100 million has been promised for a new hospital, while $125 million is promised for a new hospital at Wagga Wagga, held by the Liberal Daryl Maguire.
In northern NSW, the Nationals MPs Don Page and Thomas George will benefit from a promise to provide $10 million in funding for the expansion of Lismore and Byron hospitals.
It has promised $20 million towards a new hospital in Maitland, where its former upper house MP Robyn Parker is trying to unseat Labor's Frank Terenzini.
Apart from Maitland, two Labor-held seats would receive funding under the Coalition's announcement.
In Blacktown, where the Transport Minister, John Robertson, is trying to move from the upper house, the hospital would receive $125 million for a staged redevelopment. In Shellharbour, where Labor's Lylea McMahon is retiring, there would be $10 million for an Illawarra regional plan and expansion of Shellharbour Hospital.
The opposition spokeswoman for health, Jillian Skinner, rejected the analysis. ''Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals or patients in any one of the projects we've identified will tell you an upgrade is desperately needed,'' she said.
The Health Minister and Deputy Premier, Carmel Tebbutt, yesterday committed Labor to a $245 million redevelopment of Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals if re-elected.