Will hospital follow the train and parole office?
STATE Opposition National Party politicians have stepped up their defence of Murwillumbah District Hospital in the run-up to this Saturday's public protest rally in the town against looming hospital cutbacks.
Lismore MP Thomas George, whose electorate includes Murwillumbah, raised the issue in state Parliament last week, slamming the government for successive cutbacks of services in Murwillumbah which now include the closure of the rail line and the closure of the parole office as well as the winding back of hospital services.
On top of that, Mr George has warned the town faces the loss of its iconic and highly successful historic motor racing Festival of Speed on Tweed, with the government so far refusing to pitch in with funding.
Mr George led a debate about cuts to the Murwillumbah hospital.
On Friday it was the turn of the Murwillumbah Parole Office and Speed on Tweed.
Mr George told Parliament the Iemma government's decision to close the Murwillumbah parole office and relocate staff to Lismore was "both ignorant and arrogant".
"It is ignorant because the government doesn't understand the logistical nightmare it is creating, with no idea of the significant extra distances staff will now have to travel to do their job," Mr George said.
"Staff who live in Murwillumbah will now have to drive to and from Lismore four times on days when they have to service Tweed clients, spending up to six hours a day driving -- all because the Iemma government wants to save a few dollars on office rent."
"The decision is also clearly arrogant because the government failed to talk to or listen to the needs of the Tweed area."
Mr George also said he was very concerned about the possible end of Speed on Tweed, which was important for the Murwillumbah economy.
Meanwhile, preparations are continuing for Saturday's rally, which will start near soccer fields off Queensland Road.
Protesters will then head to the main street, passing the government offices which include the about-to-be-closed parole office, before proceeding to the town clock.
Various speakers including prominent local doctors are then due to address the rally on the impact of the proposed cuts, mainly to maternity services.