Amid outcry only $6 million had been allocated in the state budget for Griffith Base Hospital’s (GBH) redevelopment, Deputy Premier John Barilaro paid a visit to Griffith to assure the community of the hospital’s future.
Mr Barilaro staked his job on the fact Griffith will get funding for a new hospital, saying when the final figures are confirmed for the Master Plan and the business case is made, money will be given.
“I want to make it clear today: We - the Liberal and National government - I as the deputy premier on behalf of the government, commit completely to the building of a new hospital here in Griffith,” Mr Barilaro stated.
He said when the mid-year review of the state budget was conducted they could “commit to the figures.”
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While Member for Murray Austin Evans expressed his initial disappointment in the fact Griffith’s hospital appeared to be overlooked, he stood strong behind Mr Barilaro, promising he “knocked down doors” to ensure funding is received.
“I’ve been talking to health infrastructure, they are going on [the Master Plan] as hard as they can,” Mr Evans said.
“We can’t get distracted by side issues… the sooner we get that done the sooner we can have the figure, and the sooner we can get that in the budget and get on with it.”
Blame over the lack of funding in the budget had previously been laid at the door of the Save the Griffith Base Hospital Nurses’ Quarters group, with Mayor John Dal Broi claiming they were “playing with politics.”
However despite these allegations and concerns, Mr Barilaro denies their efforts to save the nurses’ quarters had, or would, impact on the government’s plans.
“I’ll make this commitment today: I am going to make sure nothing impedes the process of this hospital. That is number one priority, getting that shovel in the ground.”
“I was met by a small group of interested community members that approached me at the airport this morning,” Mr Barilaro said.
“I have taken on their concerns, but I tell you this: Whatever happens there cannot impact on the hospital.”
Cr Dal Broi joined Mr Barilaro and Mr Evans on a tour of GBH, along with Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) Executive Jill Ludford, GBH General Manager Elizabeth Harford, Health Infrastructure (HI) Project Director Amanda Bock, Local Health Advisory Committee (LHAC) Chair Margaret King and member Yvonne Turnell.
He was “thrilled” by their commitment to building the hospital “Griffith deserves.”
“We were very concerned and worried when in the budget we didn’t see the forward estimates, but the Deputy Premier has made the commitment – Griffith is going to get a new hospital,” Cr Dal Broi said.
While on the tour Mr Barilaro made the comment if no funding came he would resign as leader, however later said he wouldn’t need to:
“If we haven't delivered this hospital by March the voters will judge me as leader of the Nationals and as deputy premier, the local member - no one will need to resign, you will be throwing us out and deservingly so.”