Doctor cynical of pledges

THE Tweed Hospital has been a high priority for all political parties this election campaign but according to the Medical Staff Council, all have failed to give the "reassurance this community needs" about it's long-overdue redevelopment.

"It would appear from responses across the spectrum of parties that health remains a core issue," said Dr Ian McPhee.

"Regrettably, however, none has a confirmed, budgeted commitment to the Tweed Masterplan Implementation."

On Wednesday NSW Health Minster Jillian Skinner was back in the Tweed with Deputy Premier Troy Grant to support Tweed MP Geoff Provest in numerous announcements.

They're sticking with their $48m to Tweed Hospital after Labor's $211m pledge last Friday when the Labor bus arrived with Opposition leader Luke Foley and Shadow Health MP Walt Secord.

At Tuesday's Tweed Chamber of Commerce breakfast, candidates debating the hospital got plenty of attention, including a question from Dr McPhee.

"A question then to you Geoff.... where and how are you going to move through the process of actually acquiring the other 85% of funding that will be required?" Dr McPhee asked.

Mr Provest responded: "The process has already started with $48m, which is stages one and two, which is a lot of planning and enabling works ... the next stage, the expensive stage, discussions are already starting to take place with Treasury and the Health Minister."

Earlier, Labor candidate Ron Goodman dramatically tipped the 2014/2015 State Budget papers on the table claiming the Coalition pledge was bogus.

He said this was proved by the hospital upgrade not appearing in the forward estimates, but later Mr Provest said the hospital would appear in the 2015/16 budget.

Dr McPhee said: "Budget schmudget! If there is genuine commitment money can always be found. Political will has always trumped process."

"Mr Foley is on a vote-buying spree and Mr Baird has no 'Plan B'.

"$48m, after all is less than 20% of the project's likely total cost and, as a result of poor consultation, Labor has failed to factor in cost changes to its $211m offer. "For her part, Minister Skinner has indicated that she is committed to this, and her recent track record, elsewhere in the state would seem to indicate that she has delivered."

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