Hospital dominates rally
Members of the Where’s the Funding for West Gippsland Hospital Group had a dominating presence at a community rally in Yarragon on Thursday where they continued to push their case for a new hospital.
The lobby group used the forum, conducted in front of most local candidates standing for the November 24 state election, to highlight the need for a new hospital and voice disappointment at a recent Labor government announcement for additional funding for Latrobe Regional Hospital.
Sitting member Gary Blackwood, Greens candidate William Hornstra, independent candidates Guss Lambden, Carlo Ierfone and Michael Fozard (upper house) all expressed sympathy to the cause, along with Coalition upper house candidates Melina Bath (sitting member) and Meg Edwards.
But the lobby group missed an opportunity to press for ALP views on the matter with sitting upper house member Harriet Shing and lower house candidate Christine Maxfield apologies for the event.
Speaking in front of a sea of red of lobby group supporters and candidates, Kerry Elliott pointed to population growth figures to highlight the need for a new hospital.
“Australia was projected to reach a population of 25 million in 2024 and we’ve got there six years early. Baw Baw Shire currently has a growth rate of 13 per cent.
“We were extremely disappointed to hear of the announcement of $217 million for Latrobe Regional Hospital, when the Latrobe Valley has a growth rate of 5.6 per cent.
“Maryborough has a population of 25,500 with a projected growth rate of 7.8 per cent, and they have been promised a new hospital.
“Drouin has an expected growth of 27 per cent, the biggest in the state, and is expected to reach 29,000 people over the next 30 years.
“While some figures have been hard to find, I believe there is hidden growth in the Neerim area with Foodbank assisting up to 600 people per week.
“And here in Yarragon there is a population of 1650, but there is soon to be 800 homes to be developed in an estate off Rollo St.”
Mrs Elliott said the $9.3 million upgrades at WGH would do little to help ease pressure on the hospital’s wards.
“That will take away from car parks and parking on Landsborough Rd is dangerous,” she said.
“The walk to the front door up resuscitation hill will be taxing.
“Staff have been asked to park at the train station and make their own way to the hospital.
“I’ve been told there’s not enough hooks for staff clothes.”
David Taylor represented the Friends of Horseshoe Tunnel group. He said the group would be pushing for a review study into impacts on the environment.
Ex-emergency service volunteer Garth Head spoke of the importance of CFA volunteers and the need to adjust legislation to protect volunteers and provide surge capacity.
Candidates heard from concerned members of the community at a rally held in Yarragon ahead of the state election on November 24 (from left) from left sitting upper house member Melina Bath of the Nationals, sitting lower house member Gary Blackwood of the Liberals, independent lower house candidate Carlo Ierfone, independent lower house candidate Gus Lambden, lower house Greens candidate William Hornstra and upper house candidate Meg Edwards of the Liberals.