11 September 2019

Better water and better health promised during $175 million day

| Ian Campbell
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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Dr Michael Holland, and Member for Bega, Andrew Constance holding the One Eurobodalla petition. Photo: Ian Campbell

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Dr Michael Holland, and Member for Bega, Andrew Constance holding the One Eurobodalla Hospital petition. Photo: Ian Campbell

Five months out from the NSW Election it’s easy to be cynical about politicians making announcements worth $175 million dollars. As the NSW Premier and the Member for Bega did just that today (October 31) in the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla, comments about “pork barrelling” and “buying votes” filtered through the live feed on About Regional Facebook.

Given political history and the contest that rightly comes with a seat in parliament, it’s hard to argue against that point of view. However, most seem happy to see progress on two significant local issues.

Today’s big ticket item was $150 million to build a new hospital in the Eurobodalla.

The future of the Shire’s current facilities at Batemans Bay and Moruya will be decided during the long process ahead, but Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Member for Bega Andrew Constance today announced that a new hospital would be developed on a greenfield site at a location that is yet to be decided.

Construction will commence in the next term of Government.

“We are looking forward to getting cracking and building this,” Ms Berejiklian says.

“This is a big deal and the community can be confident that we are going to build this hospital.

“We have built so many new hospitals in rural and regional New South Walse and it’s now time for the Eurobodalla to have its own hospital.”

Member for Bega, Andrew Constance and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, at Moruya's Quarry Park. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Member for Bega, Andrew Constance and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, at Moruya’s Quarry Park. Photo: Ian Campbell.

In a way, Mr Constance says the hospital is already being built with the completion of the Clinical Services Plan in the last 12 months.

“We will form a Community Reference Group that will be lead by medicos to work through some of the issues ahead,” he says.

“We don’t have intensive care here and we have patients traveling hundreds of kilometers for services that should really be here in the shire.

“We have got to find a substantial site, one that can be built on in 50 years time, we don’t want a landlocked site.”

Mr Constance hopes parochial interests will be put to one side as discussion starts on a location that will serve all residents between Narooma and Batemans Bay.

Moruya based GP, Dr Michael Holland who recently lead a petition of 3,000 plus signatures calling for one new hospital for the Eurobodalla says, “This is almost as good as my daughter’s wedding.”

“I have witnessed thousands of births and this is right up there. It will bring new life to the Eurobodalla,” he says.

Just 90 minutes earlier Ms Berejiklian and Mr Constance announced $25 million to clean up the water supply on the Brogo – Bermagui and Bega – Tathra systems.

Initially, $10 million will go towards construction of the Brogo-Bermagui Water Treatment Plant, with the balance being spent on the Bega-Tathra Water Treatment Plant further down the track.

“This is something we have campaigned for, for a long time,” says Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain.

“We have a huge shire and a very small ratepayer base and for us to deliver these water filtration facilities on our own would have been a mammoth task and taken years and years to deliver.

“We now get to say not only do we have pristine water to swim in but we have pristine water to drink.”

Cr McBain says, residents can do a happy dance knowing that boil water notices during heavy rainfall events will be a thing of the past.

“And the residents of Bega, Kalaru, and Tathra will be happy to know they’ll be able to put their washing through and get white clothes back out,” she says.

With designs ready to go, the Mayor says the Brogo-Bermagui upgrade will start shortly, with planning and construction for Bega – Tathra to follow.

The run up the coast for the Premier started at Bega Valley Rural Fire Service headquarters in Bega, Ms Berejiklian stopping to thank firefighters for their recent efforts on the 20,000 hectare Yankees Gap Fire.

“It’s wonderful to have you [Ms Berejiklian] back here without smoke and helicopters in the air,” RFS Superintendent John Cullen joked.

The Premier commended the volunteers gathered and wished them well for the challenging season ahead.

With that Cobargo and Wolumla RFS brigades were officially given the keys to new four-wheel drive firefighting vehicles.

“These two state of the art Cat 9 vehicles are replacing vehicles that date back to 1987,” Mr Cullen says.

“We’ve seen the value of these tankers in the rugged country around here.

“Particularly their mobility, with two people who can get quickly to spot fires and knock them out, they played a pivotal role in saving Tathra Public School.”

As I traveled the road between Bega and Moruya following this money trail, other issues of local interest played out on the sideline hoping for similar resolution.

Posters raising issues with forestry, public school funding, Princess Highway conditions, and $1 milk are plastered to trees and fences.

A number of live issues remain for the contest of ideas ahead as the election campaign builds towards March 19.

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