Protest grows against hospital site at Cudgen
MORE than 350 protesters packed the stands at Cudgen Leagues Club on Saturday, in a growing show of force against the site of a new hospital at Cudgen.
The protest was the second in as many weeks staged by the Relocate Tweed Valley Hospital group, who are against the proposed new $534 million hospital being built on State Significant Farmland at Cudgen.
Several speakers addressed the crowd on Saturday, including sweet potato farmer James Paddon, tourism industry leader Rose Wright, Tweed Shire Councillor Ron Cooper, Tweed Heads Ratepayers Association president Lindy Smith, Labor candidate Craig Elliot as well as Team Relocate members Kristie Hedley and Alison Adams.
Cudgen farmer James Paddon told the crowd everything should be done to save the sweet potato industry at Cudgen, worth $10 million to the Tweed each year.
"Tweed Shire Council has given us a beautiful opportunity to start afresh, to do this properly, to save our farmland and put the hospital where it should be," Mr Paddon said, referring to council's opposition to the selected site.
"We need to save this small pocket of farmland, to save Kingscliff and save our industry."
Tweed Heads and District Ratepayers Association president Lindy Smith said she was appalled at the lack of long-term planning by the site selection.
"To remove the Tweed Hospital out of the Tweed Heads economy would leave a massive, gaping hole with huge consequences," Ms Smith told the crowd.
"This is the 21st Century where we use long-term strategy plans. The government is running through years of consultation for their plans to be adopted. These are the plans that have been provided to residents and businesses who use them to invest to be close to services. All of this was in train until March 2017 when the minister suddenly decided to throw all planning through the window. This is a massive step backwards. We don't want to go back to the days of ad hoc development."
Protest organiser Hayley Paddon, fresh from a trip to Sydney to deliver an 8000-strong petition to the NSW Parliament, said the strong turn-out should send a message to the NSW Government and encouraged others to continue to voice their objection to the hospital site via letters and social media.
The rally represented a doubling of the showing at the first protest held outside the office of Tweed MP Geoff Provest on October 5, which drew a crowd of around 150 people.
It came after the government on Friday announced it had released the major tender for the design and construction of the new Tweed Valley Hospital at the Cudgen site.