Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has challenged his opponents to lay their cards on the table regarding how they’d fund future health services in the southern corridor, saying both will promise the world during the election but won’t be able to explain how they’ll deliver.
“This time last year in a two-page spread in The Cairns Post, the Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) candidate said he could build a new health facility at Edmonton for $25 million,” Mr Pitt said.
“Based on this price tag, their facility would have no surgery capacity, no ED capacity and no capacity as an alternate site in the event of a disaster, including being built for high cyclone specification.
“The KAP’s proposal to build a $25 million facility could simply not provide the services needed. They have no idea of what the real costs are and they have no idea how they’d fund it.
“Next thing we’ll be hearing is that the KAP’s economic policy is based on chook raffles, and it takes a hell of a lot of chook raffles to raise $25 million.
“This sort of talk by is just more ‘magic pudding economics’ from populist political aspirants and voters in Mulgrave are smarter than that.
“Worst of all, the KAP candidate suggested that work should halt on the Cairns Base redevelopment of Blocks A, B and C which feature most of the medical services and patient beds, until future health needs could be debated.
“An absurd proposition. Those beds are needed right now and the impact of turning off the bulldozers and downing tools on the biggest construction job in region would been disastrous for local jobs.”
Mr Pitt said the Liberal National Party (LNP) were no better.
“In a media statement from December last year, the LNP candidate for Mulgrave attacked the government’s plan as ‘a mirage of empty promises of false hope which contains no funding’, going further to ask ‘Where is the money coming from?’ in relation to the proposed Edmonton health facility,” Mr Pitt said.
“I think she should ask the same question of Campbell Newman who has already racked up more than $5.5 billion with of election promises but has not given any hint as to how he’d fund any of them, including moving the Cairns Base to Tier 1 status.
“They continue to trot out statements like ‘An LNP Campbell Newman led government will revitalise health services and restore accountability to government’ which are nothing more than slogans and gimmicks that have absolutely no basis.”
Mr Pitt said the LNP Candidate for Mulgrave also falsely suggested the government had promised a new hospital from the proceeds from the sale of the Cairns Airport, and that these proceeds had been spent elsewhere.
“Completely wrong. When announced in The Cairns Post on 16 April 2008, the Premier clearly gave a commitment that ‘all money raised from the airport’s sale would go back into the Cairns region.’
“At best this is a case of selective memory. At worst, it’s deliberately deceitful.
“The sale of the Cairns airport was negotiated in 2008 and the proceeds from the Cairns Airport sale were quarantined for Far North Queensland capital works programs. The most significant of these capital works is the redevelopment of the Cairns Base Hospital worth $446.3 million and is clearly underway right now.
“If the LNP bothered to look at what the Cairns Base will look like once redevelopment work is completed in 2014, they’ll clearly see that it might as well be a new hospital with new radiation oncology services, an expanded emergency department and more.”
Mr Pitt said that the KAP and LNP candidates continued to call for something that the Bligh Government have already committed to in realistic terms.
“Labor went to the 2009 election with a two-pronged strategy that included the Cairns Base Hospital redevelopment and acquisition of land for a health facility in the southern suburbs of Cairns. Both of these have been achieved.
“These candidates jumped on the health services bandwagon post-Cyclone Yasi but conveniently fail to mention that I’ve been working on this since I was elected – well before last cyclone season.
“I worked hard to secure the land for a future health facility at Edmonton, and the Queensland Infrastructure Plan clearly outlines the Government’s intention to open a new Health Precinct at Edmonton between 2015 and 2021, with a brand new hospital for South Cairns to follow.
“But I’ve been on the public record numerous times as disagreeing with the ‘experts’ that say we might have to wait until 2020 for an Edmonton Health Facility.
“I want to see something on the ground by 2015. I think the demand is there and the case is also strengthened by recommendations in the disaster management planning for the region to use an Edmonton facility as a backup to the Cairns Base Hospital in case of natural disaster.
“I won’t be making any outlandish promises that can’t be delivered. What I will do is continue to argue for this because I’m committed to delivering long term, sustainable health outcomes – not only for my local community but for our entire region.”