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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 3033


Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (11:54): To the member for Canberra, that was a very impressive list of talented women, so hats off to you for getting through them all in that five minutes. I rise today to put some facts on the table about the Palmerston Hospital. There has been some controversy this week while I have been here. The Labor candidate has suggested that I do not support the Palmerston Hospital, which is an absolute mistruth, because I have always been a strong advocate for the Palmerston Hospital. There was also some mistruth which said that the Northern Territory has scrapped the idea of the Palmerston Hospital. Nothing is further from the truth.

The truth is that the Northern Territory government has said that it wants to put in place some proper planning, which the previous Labor government did not do. The scoping study that the Northern Territory government is proposing is to make sure that we have good health services for the next 30 to 40 years for the people of Palmerston and also for Darwin residents and for the greater Darwin area, with the rural community growing at an enormous pace.

When the Country Liberals proposed the hospital in 2008, the Labor government described the plan as a cruel hoax. That is really quite interesting, because now I hear on radio that the Labor candidate is out saying that it is only Labor that can deliver Palmerston Hospital and saying that $70 million that was proposed under the Labor government is now off the table. Former health minister Kon Vatskalis was on radio saying that he secured the $70 million and now that has gone. The Labor candidate for the seat of Solomon is on the airwaves saying that he secured the $70 million and that has all gone. And they are saying that the coalition has not put forward any money. Nothing could be further from the truth, because the $70 million was planned and allocated under the Health and Hospitals Fund. As far as I am aware, the $70 million is there.

What the Labor candidate is not talking about is the fact that Labor left the Territory in $5.5 billion worth of debt. The previous Labor government in the Northern Territory were saying that the Palmerston Hospital was a priority for them. In May 2011 they secured the $70 million. They had until August 2012. All they achieved was erecting a fence around the block that is the proposed home for the hospital. They went at it like a bull at a gate. While the community says that it needs some facilities there, there was a real lack of planning on where it should go and what facilities it should provide. There was some talk that it was going to provide 24-hour emergency services, and then it was not going to provide 24-hour emergency services. They were going to provide a birthing suite and then they were not going to provide a birthing suite. The fact is that there was absolute confusion. The Palmerston community were not sure what they were going to get.

Under a Country Liberals government, they are going to be very clear about what they are going to get. It is not something that is going to be rushed in. The Country Liberals were always planning on having a hospital that was going to grow with the community, because Palmerston is the fastest-growing city in Australia, so we need to make sure that we are thinking strategically if we are going to provide the best health services for the people of Darwin, Palmerston and the rural area.

I also want to make it very clear that the coalition understand how important it is that we provide very good hospital services and health services to Territorians. We will be doing everything we can to support the new Northern Territory government to make sure that we provide the best opportunities for Territorians to make sure that they are well looked after, not just now, not just short term, but in the next 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. You can be assured that we will be doing it responsibly, not going around spending money willy-nilly like the Labor government did. The $70 million is not at risk. (Time expired)