NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said “Griffith will get a new hospital” at a press conference in Bilbul on Thursday.
Her commitment to building a “new” base hospital marks a clear change in language from the NSW government, who had previously only spoken about upgrading the existing hospital.
“I’m very proud of the fact that Griffith will get a new hospital. I am very proud of the fact that there’s already $35 million allocated for stage one,” the Premier said.
“We want to get this thing started as soon as possible”.
The Save Griffith Base Hospital committee, who for weeks have pushed government to commit to a new hospital, is not satisfied.
They are now pushing for a timeframe and full budget allocation for a new hospital.
Committee president Jenna Woodland met with Health minister Brad Hazzard on Thursday, and said she would have liked some more detail.
“The minister wouldn’t commit to any further funding beyond a $35 million for what they’ve called stage one.”
“He said there is a lot of scoping and planning to be done, and no building on a new hospital is likely to start until late 2019 or 2020”.
Paul Pierotti, Griffith business chamber president, wants to see much firmer commitments from the NSW government.
“The premier, health minister and local member all agree that our hospital services are not good enough”.
“What we don’t agree on is an acceptable timeframe to rectify this situation”.
Mr Pierotti said the government has acquired lot of money from the sale of assets, and they could easily commit the full amount required to build a new hospital now – rather than just $35 million for what they call “stage one”.
“We want them to commit $250 million now to build a new hospital. Until the money is allocated, it won’t happen”.
“Peoples lives are at stake. There must be action now”.
Both Ms Woodland and Mr Pierotti said they were disappointed that neither the NSW Premier nor Health Minister Brad Hazzard found time to speak to the 200 protesters who had gathered outside the Griffith Exies on Thursday.
“I find it astonishing they didn’t speak to us… this was a peaceful protest, there was no risk for them,” Mr Pierotti said.
The Premier was asked if she supported a new hospital being built. She said she did, and singled out Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli for praise for his work in lobbying for the hospital.
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