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Friday, 19 May 1939

Mr FROST (Franklin) .- I was one of the members of the committee which visited Darwin to consider this matter. I regret to say that we found the existing accommodation to be of a very primitive nature. This may have been due in part to the fact that, at the time the hospital was constructed, Darwin had a very small white population. With the influx of defence personnel and of workmen engaged on building operations, the present hospital accommodation is quite insufficient to meet requirements.

Mr Beasley - Is there no military hospital at Darwin?

Mr FROST - There is only a temporary hospital at the barracks. We found the conditions at the old hospital disgraceful. When the committee began its inquiries it discovered that three plans for a new hospital had already been drawn, one for the Administrator, one by the engineers, and one by the Works Branch. The committee found it necessary to call conferences of all the parties in order to evolve a plan which would meet all requirements. The original proposal submitted to the committee was for the erection of a hospital containing 100 beds at a cost of about £120,000. After taking all factors into consideration, the committee decided that a suitable hospital could be constructed for an expenditure of £67,000. I might mention that, because of the very unhealthy climate, it is necessary to provide more hospital accommodation per thousand people in the Northern Territory than in any other part of Australia. The committee recommended that a tropical hospital should he constructed, and as the result of its investigations it has been able to save the Government many thousands of pounds. Had one of the original plans been accepted, the Government would have been faced with considerable additional expenditure for upkeep. The hospital recommended by the committee should meet all of . the requirements of the town and district for the next five or six years. The design permits of the extension of the building should that become necessary. Because of the very unsatisfactory conditions which prevail at the present hospital, in which coloured races, aborigines and whites are all treated together, I trust that the Government will go ahead with this work without delay. The present hospital is over-crowded, patients being treated even in the corridors. Should an epidemic occur, the existing accommodation would be entirely inadequate. The needs of the several hundred workmen employed in Darwin on the water scheme and on building operations must be catered for. Darwin is becoming increasingly important, because of the establishment of the flying boat base and the garrison, and this work should be undertaken without delay.

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