Pledge on Cairns Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal site and for busi­ness case

The Cairns Post - - FRONT PAGE - JACK LAWRIE

CAIRNS Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal is on course for its 2025 goal with LNP Leader Deb Freck­ling­ton set to an­nounce a $20m com­mit­ment to get the project rolling. The de­ci­sion means both ma­jor par­ties are on board, with Pre­mier Annastacia Palaszczuk al­ready pledg­ing $16.5m.

THE Cairns Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal project has taken a big step on its jour­ney with both ma­jor par­ties promis­ing to de­liver the goods if they win the up­com­ing state elec­tion.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Deb Freck­ling­ton on Mon­day will an­nounce a $20m in­fu­sion to kick­start the Cairns Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal project.

The in­vest­ment in­cludes $15m to ac­quire the site and $5m for a busi­ness case for the hos­pi­tal.

Pre­mier Annastacia Palaszczuk has al­ready com­mit­ted $15m to buy the land plus $1.5m for the busi­ness case.

The Cairns Hos­pi­tal and Hin­ter­land Health Service has out­lined a $165m-plus plan to bring the fa­cil­ity up to a ter­tiary sta­tus, but the clock is tick­ing. For the univer­sity hos­pi­tal to be op­er­a­tional by the tar­get date of 2025, progress needs to be made now.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has had $60m on the ta­ble, wait­ing for the state gov­ern­ment, since Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son vis­ited Cairns two years ago.

The LNP has also an­nounced it will com­mit $26m to ex­pand­ing the ex­ist­ing Cairns Hos­pi­tal emer­gency de­part­ment and re­duce the hos­pi­tal wait­ing list to zero.

There are now more than 3300 peo­ple on the Far North’s surgery wait­ing list.

LNP leader Deb Freck­ling­ton (above) said wait­ing times had risen 146 per cent un­der Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“An LNP gov­ern­ment will take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to fix the Far North’s health sys­tem and we’ll also in­vest in the next-gen­er­a­tion hos­pi­tal that Cairns de­serves,” she said.

“Cairns should have a world-class health sys­tem and that’s what the LNP will pro­vide.”

Nei­ther party has com­mit­ted the full $165m fund­ing nec­es­sary for con­struc­tion.

La­bor has pledged $26.4m to ex­pand the Cairns Hos­pi­tal emer­gency de­part­ment.

It has also an­nounced it will in­vest $11.5m to es­tab­lish a youth drug and al­co­hol re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre in Cairns.

Cairns can­di­date Sam Marino said Cairns had been left be­hind on health­care.

“The univer­sity hos­pi­tal will cat­a­pult our health ser­vices into a new era, with pa­tients able to get ad­vanced treat­ments right here in Cairns,” he said.

Bar­ron River can­di­date Linda Cooper said the univer­sity hos­pi­tal will cre­ate jobs and put more money into busi­nesses across the re­gion.

“Our re­gion has waited too long for bet­ter health ser­vices, so this is great news for pa­tients and our fan­tas­tic health staff,” she said.

The LNP has also said it will in­vest $2m to cre­ate a kid­ney trans­plant unit at Cairns Hos­pi­tal.

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