Ambulance Service petition to be tabled in Parliament
Tocumwal’s appeal for an ambulance station to be built in the town could be heard in NSW Parliament as early as this month.
A petition signed by more then 2000 people was delivered to NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard last week.
NSW Member for Murray Austin Evans said he intends to speak to the petition in Parliament at the next sitting on October 16.
He said while the petition does not have enough signatures to be officially debated by the Parliament, the support for the Tocumwal ambulance station is enough to ensure the proposal is on the government’s radar.
‘‘The petition needs to get to 10,000 signatures before it can be officially debated in Parliament so that’s still a far hurdle, but by having it read in Parliament it’s still good to have it on the Hansard.
‘‘Because of some issues with the wording of the petition it has been withdrawn from the minister (to be fixed), but he’s seen it and is aware of the petition.
‘‘While the minister can make the call by himself, it doesn’t hurt that we put it to the minister because it lets him know what people in Tocumwal are thinking.
‘‘The committee has written a number of letters and the context of their letters are becoming more relevant in relation to population growth, summer tourism and festivals.’’
The petition was started at Easter this year by the Ambulance for Tocumwal Steering Committee, after the push for a local station resurfaced last year.
Tocumwal’s NSW Fire & Rescue brigade members are classified as ‘first responders’ and can administer medical treatment if required, but the nearest fully trained paramedics are based in Finley or Cobram.
Committee chair Dennis Sutton said the support the appeal has received so far is positive.
‘‘It’s great to have the support of the residents of Tocumwal and we are excited the local member is showing interest in having an ambulance service in Tocumwal.
‘‘There is a need for it in the town, and I would expect that continued support.’’
Mr Evans said it is important to address the need for an ambulance station in Tocumwal, particularly given the gowing population and pending tourism season.
He said the steering committee must start to think of having a temporary structure to ‘‘get the ball rolling’’.
‘‘We’ve spoken with the group about lateral thinking ways of trying to get this up and running,’’ he said.
‘‘It might be based on time or a seasonal station, so when the festivals are on or at the height of summer, where we can pull help from other stations.
‘‘We can still rely on the first responders a fair bit, but be able to say ‘this weekend you can have off and won’t be called out’.
‘‘The good thing is the Tocumwal Lions Club is willing to donate the land (for a station), so there is no land purchase cost. It might just be finding a temporary home in Tocumwal during the summer as a solution.
‘‘Between Tocumwal’s growth and population, plus the number of people who visit there over summer and for festivals, I think it’s warranted to have a station.
‘‘I’ve spoken with some former Rural Fire Service members and they’ve said they were under a lot of pressure to also act as first responders. The steering committee stated in the petition there are people who will rejoin the RFS if they don’t have to be first responders.’’