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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2873


Mr WILSON (O'Connor) (10:11): Last week, I visited the most eastern and isolated town in my electorate, the town of Eucla. I was so far east that a few steps further east and I was in the electorate of Grey of my good friend and colleague Rowan Ramsey. Situated at a strategic point on the Eyre Highway, Eucla is the epitome of a remote town. It is situated 700 kilometres from Norseman and 500 kilometres from Ceduna. They do not have a supermarket; their groceries are trucked in from Ceduna and Kalgoorlie. Barely any of their roads are bituminised, and, up until a few weeks ago, the local health clinic was a small bedroom attached to the residence of the local nurse.

My visit to Eucla was for official purposes, opening the new $2.5 million Silver Chain multipurpose health centre. And, while I was honoured to be there representing the Minister for Health, the Hon. Sussan Ley, really the highlight of the trip was meeting the Eucla community members who keep this border town running.

Credit is due to the police officers, the Department of Agriculture border officers and local business owners who service the Eyre Highway, but I think the most deserved praise was directed at two local heroes, Wendy and Ardan McGuinness. The couple have been in the small town for six years, and their hard work is the foundation on which the health centre rests.

As the town's remote area nurse, Wendy is at the front line of health care in Eucla, and, let me tell you, she has seen it all. In just a 20-minute chat to Wendy, I heard stories of premature labour, septicaemia, multi-organ failure and major cuts involving Wendy sewing up a severed artery because a particular gentleman did not want to leave town. She told the Kalgoorlie Miner: 'You name it, I've had it, from the rarest disease to the garden variety stuff,' and she is not exaggerating.

Wendy's husband, Ardan, meanwhile, is usually close by her side in an emergency. Although there is a healthy list of volunteer ambulance drivers signed up in Eucla, most are usually busy with work commitments. Ardan's daily role taking care of odd jobs around the town means he is usually free to answer the call. It is couples like Wendy and Ardan that keep communities like Eucla functioning, and I can assure you that, if you happen to fall ill along the Nullarbor, you want Wendy McGuinness caring for you.

Along with Wendy and Ardan, the 40-person community includes six police officers, led by officer in charge Dave Snowball; a roadhouse and motel owned and run by the amazing Rasa Patupis; and 10 Department of Agriculture food officers manning the Eucla checkpoint. The border checkpoints are the first line of defence against incursions of unwanted pests, weeds and diseases which could arrive on freight, cargo and other items brought in from interstate. The Eucla checkpoint operates 24 hours a day throughout the year. Thank you to Louise Smith and Nick Jackson and their team for their dedication and commitment to keeping our state free of the biosecurity threats that are common in other parts of Australia.