The 10,000 signature Forster Public Hospital petition will not be discussed in NSW Parliament until after the State election.
Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead travelled to Sydney to deliver the petition to NSW Parliament Legislative Assembly Tables Office during December, after NSW Parliament had finished its sitting days for 2018.
The outcome of that decision is that “technically it hasn’t been tabled as it hasn’t been formally announced in the House”, according to the Legislative Assembly Tables Office.
The final sitting week of both Houses of Parliament was November 20 to November 22.
As petitions are tabled on Thursdays, the final date for the Speaker to announce the petition was November 22.
Tabled petitions with more than 10,000 signatures are scheduled for discussion, however, the Legislative Assembly Tables Office advises that “if Mr Bromhead is not re-elected it may not be presented to parliament.”
Petitions that fail to secure 10,000 signatures are not announced in the Legislative Assembly by the Speaker and are not scheduled for discussion in the House.
All petitions are sent to the relevant Minister for response.
The NSW election is set down for Saturday, March 23, and once the new government is elected parliamentary sitting dates for 2019 will be set.
According to the Legislative Assembly Tables Office, “a March election will generally see the first sitting dates around mid-May.”
Mr Bromhead's office has been contacted for comment.
Mr Bromhead’s petition to the NSW government “calls on the government to build a public hospital in the Forster-Tuncurry area to provide an emergency department, medical imaging, ambulatory care and inpatient units to over 20,000 residents who call the Great Lakes home.”
It asks “the Legislative Assembly to commit funding for the construction of a public hospital for our community.”
He cites population growth as the reason the government needs to invest in a public hospital.
The intent of the petition is popular with residents in the Great Lakes area but it failed to secure the critical support of professionals working to deliver health services in the district.
Manning Hospital Medical Staff Council acted to discuss Mr Bromhead’s proposal and public petition campaign at its October 30 meeting and unanimously voted to not support it. It cited the following reasons:
- Opening a second public hospital will cause dilution of services which is not ideal for the community.
- There has been no consultation with the administration of Manning Hospital, any of the specialists working in the region or the area health board regarding opening a second public hospital in Forster.
- Currently, the Manning Hospital is under-resourced, underfunded and will need drastic improvement in its infrastructure as part of the hospital redevelopment process. It would be important to redirect all available resources and funding to improve Manning Hospital.
Hunter New England Local Health District chief executive officer, Michael DiRienzo is aware of the existence of the petition, however says, “population growth is not the only factor assessed when NSW Health considers its capital infrastructure spending.”
“At this stage our indications don’t show that we need to build a public hospital in Forster,” Mr DiRienzo said.