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Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Page: 155

Mr BALDWIN (9:45 AM) —I rise today to raise an issue of concern to my electorate of Paterson. I have been approached by a number of people concerned about access to and waiting times of the ambulance service. Last Monday, the front page of the Newcastle Herald highlighted that there had been a blow-out in the time taken for ambulances to arrive and pick up their patients. There are a number of reasons why these blow-outs have occurred. They have occurred because the manning levels are down, because we have single ambulance operator units and because of the time that ambulances are required to wait at hospitals before they can admit their person. The times have blown out because often ambulances get to a scene of domestic violence before the police but are unable to go into the site until the police arrive. They might sit there waiting an hour.

We have just had a state election and not at any time did anyone from the ambulance union raise the issues of working conditions and the supply of stock. Indeed, many people are unable to be treated in an ambulance with basic services, such as pain relief, because the ambulance service does not have a supply of painkillers, because it has not been paying its accounts. Why wasn’t that question raised during the state election? In particular, why was it not raised by the union official who ran as the ALP candidate in the state seat of Port Stephens? I put it to you that it was not raised by that candidate because he is a servant of the unions and a servant of the Labor Party, not a servant of the people. He failed to represent the interests of the community which he sought to represent. He failed to represent the interests of his fellow workers, those ambulance drivers. So who suffers? The only ones who suffer are the patients. Why would he not stand up for those who are undermanned? Because he is the person who gets a four-hour overtime call-out for each incident outside his normal working hours.

The candidate who ran for Port Stephens is now running against me as the candidate for Paterson. On behalf of the people in Paterson, I put the question: if he seeks to be a vocal advocate of the people, why is it that he never once raised this issue? Why did he not stand up for the community he has been serving? Why did he not stand up for his fellow workers? It is because he is nothing more than a union hack who was too afraid to go to the rank and file membership of the electorate for preselection.