Group wants to be heard

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS - by Yvette Brand

Where’s The Fund­ing com­mu­nity cam­paign or­gan­is­ers have wel­comed a meet­ing with Mem­ber for East­ern Vic­to­ria Har­riet Shing, af­ter their sched­uled meet­ing last Fri­day was can­celled.

The com­mu­nity lobby group is still des­per­ately hop­ing to at­tract fund­ing for a new West Gipp­s­land Hos­pi­tal in next month’s state bud­get.

When Fri­day’s meet­ing was can­celled, they were told they would not be able to meet with Ms Shing in the next three weeks.

Af­ter declar­ing their dis­ap­point­ment on the group’s com­mu­nity Face­book page, and sig­nif­i­cant com­mu­nity back­lash, Ms Shing’s of­fice con­tacted the group yes­ter­day morn­ing to ar­range a meet­ing for Fri­day.

WTF cam­paign mem­ber Kerry El­liott said they were dis­ap­pointed when last Fri­day’s meet­ing with Ms Shing was can­celled be­cause of ill­ness but wel­comed the open­ing in her di­ary for this week.

“We have to re­spect that Har­riet may have been un­well but what dis­ap­points us, is that we were told there was no op­por­tu­nity to resched­ule with Har­riet in the near fu­ture.

“She won’t see us for weeks and cer­tainly not un­til well af­ter the May state bud­get,” the group said on its Face­book page.

Mrs El­liott said she was dis­gusted the state gov­ern­ment could com­mit mil­lions of dol­lars to the AFL with­out look­ing at the health needs of the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

Hun­dreds of letters signed by com­mu­nity mem­bers have been sent to Health Min­is­ter Jill Hen­nessy, as well as a box of news­pa­per ar­ti­cles, the group’s red t-shirt and a let­ter re­quest­ing a meet­ing.

Mrs El­liott said the com­mit­tee had re­ceived no re­sponse from ei­ther Ms Hen­nessy or pre­mier Daniel An­drews.

The Gazette also has lodged sev­eral ques­tions, re­peat­edly with the min­is­ter’s of­fice seek­ing answers about the busi­ness case for the West Gipp­s­land Hos­pi­tal.

The main ques­tion asked by The Gazette has been, when will the com­mu­nity have an an­swer on the busi­ness case rec­om­men­da­tions? The Gazette also has had no re­sponse. “We just want to meet our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and speak on be­half of our com­mu­nity,” Mrs El­liott said.

The group wants Ms Shing and the min­is­ter to lis­ten and ac­knowl­edge the sig­nif­i­cant com­mu­nity con­cern and pri­or­ity need for a new hos­pi­tal.

Mrs El­liott said they also wanted the gov­ern­ment to ac­knowl­edge the plan­ning work is com­pleted and busi­ness cases sub­mit­ted to the gov­ern­ment for fund­ing con­sid­er­a­tion.

“We want them to recog­nise that throw­ing away money to try and patch up an 80-year-old build­ing that is un­fix­able and no longer fits the pur­pose is sheer lu­nacy.

“In the mean­time the peo­ple keep pour­ing in and our beau­ti­ful old hos­pi­tal is not cop­ing. Our re­gion is one of the fastest grow­ing ar­eas in the state and in­fra­struc­ture to ac­com­mo­date the in­flux is se­ri­ously de­fi­cient,” she said.

Ms Shing told The Gazette she has con­tin­ued to ad­vo­cate for hos­pi­tal fund­ing for a new War­ragul hos­pi­tal as well as the ad­di­tional fund­ing for West Gipp­s­land Health Ser­vices; and other hospi­tals and health ser­vices through­out Gipp­s­land.

“I was very dis­ap­pointed that the Prime Min­is­ter did not take the time to visit the hos­pi­tal or to hear from the com­mu­nity about the im­por­tance of not cut­ting hos­pi­tal fund­ing and com­mit­ting fed­eral re­sources to a new hos­pi­tal when he was in Gipp­s­land ear­lier this week for an­nounce­ments about coal tech­nol­ogy,” she said.

Where’s the Fund­ing lobby group mem­bers Kerry El­liott and Rob Sin­nett out­side Mem­ber for East­ern Vic­to­ria Har­riet Shing’s of­fice on Fri­day af­ter a meet­ing with her staff, that has now lead to a resched­uled meet­ing this week.

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