Hos­pi­tal dom­i­nates rally

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by Davyd Reid

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.

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