OUR HANDS ARE TIED: Nurses Association representatives Nicki Connelly, Zoe Guinea, Siobhan Mills, Angie Gittus and Kristin Ryan say funding cuts are restricting nurses.
OUR HANDS ARE TIED: Nurses Association representatives Nicki Connelly, Zoe Guinea, Siobhan Mills, Angie Gittus and Kristin Ryan say funding cuts are restricting nurses. Alina Rylko

GALLERY: Protests as Nats meet at Twin Towns

NATIONALS delegates were heckled as they arrived en masse at Twin Towns on Friday for their annual state conference.

NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association members tied themselves up with rope at the main entrance to the facility, protesting recent cuts to nursing.

Tweed-Murwillumbah union delegate and clinical nurse Angie Gittus said the protest was to call for national laws to address the State Government's recent decision to take away the requirement for 24/7 Registered Nurses at nursing homes.

 

"We think it's an absolute travesty and we want the Nationals to reverse that decision. We think it's vital there are RNs in nursing homes for the safety of the patients," she said.

The group demanded the Nationals refund what they said was former Prime Minster Tony Abbott's planned $57 billion cuts to the health budget, scheduled to roll out over the next decade.

"The Liberal-National Party have cut a lot out of our federal health budget, and that cuts through to the states as well," Ms Gittus said.

Inside the conference, where about 300 regional delegates, MPs and party faithful gathered, health was top of the agenda as Federal National Party leader Barnaby Joyce addressed the crowd.

"We believe in making sure we get crucial services out to regional areas," he said.

Later, the Nationals pledged $25 million for the establishment of an integrated cancer clinic at Dubbo - a seat the party claimed was "safe".

Rural Health Minster Fiona Nash, who recently visited the Tweed Hospital with Tweed MP Geoff Provest over local clinicians' campaign for extra funding, said the hospital would be the focus of campaigning by the Nationals.

"We are clearly at the beginning of a very long campaign," she said.

"I think we'll see a lot of focus on the Tweed from now until the 2nd of July."

 

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair, Deputy Premier Troy Grant, federal leader Barnaby Joyce and Minster for Rural Health FIona Nash.
Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair, Deputy Premier Troy Grant, federal leader Barnaby Joyce and Minster for Rural Health FIona Nash. Alina Rylko

National Party conference agenda

- Increasing role of pharmacists to provide health care in rural areas

- National student concession card

- Two year pilot program helping farmers to be innovative

- Apiarists given greater access to National Parks and Crown Land to boost honey production

- 417 and 457 visas and reducing backpacker tax to 19c

- White collar criminals to pay for their own incarceration



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