Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt says residents of Cairns and the Far North should be asking questions of Cairns member-elect Gavin King about the LNP’s ever shifting position on Tier 1 funding for the Cairns Base Hospital.

Mr Pitt said Labor had consistently and clearly committed to an independent review of the funding situation and that if the experts recommended Tier 1 status, then that’s what would happen.

In today’s The Cairns Post, new Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said he was committed to fulfilling pre-election promises, but needed to make sure a Tier 1 status would “fit the need” before he would go “rushing in”.

“Locals should rightly feel cheated by this. Only a week and a half since the election and the Newman Government is backtracking,” Mr Pitt said.

“The LNP was prepared to put people’s expectations sky-high in order to get a vote but now they’ve retreated to the Labor position which they lambasted during the campaign.

“Former LNP health spokesperson Mark McArdle, as well as Mr King and other LNP candidates made an irresponsible promise to deliver Tier 1. Has Mr McArdle been demoted because he over-reached and promised something he wasn’t supposed to?

“I may be a bit old fashioned, but I’ve always been of the view that you should under promise and over deliver.

“People are quite simply looking for straight-talk on this important issue. The LNP is on the record as promising Tier 1.

“If the LNP’s $15 million over four years is meant to put CBH ‘on the pathway’ to Tier 1, how long will it take to actually become a Tier 1 hospital?”

Mr Pitt said he continues to support a population and demographically-based funding model but cautioned that while changing tiers may mean more funding on some activites, it could mean less money for those specialist services Cairns is currently trying to build up.

“Labor took the decision to await the expert funding review before making promises around Tier 1 funding. Politicians shouldn’t choose winners and losers in health funding,” Mr Pitt said.

“Under an LNP Government the expert review may still recommend Tier 1 funding for Cairns – as it may have under Labor – but the critical issue here is how can people in the Far North trust anything their local Liberal National MPs have to say after this?”

Cairns and Hinterland Health CEO Julie Hartley-Jones has previously said: “It is not correct to assume that all activities we perform are better funded in Tier 1 than Tier 2. In fact, all of the most common procedures performed at the Cairns Base Hospital are better funded if Cairns stays in our current tier.”

“A lot of the new specialist services which currently receive extra start-up funding under the present arrangements, are also at risk of losing funding under a different tier,” Mr Pitt said.

“In some cases, that change might make the services unviable and obviously nobody wants that to happen.”