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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 3246

Mrs ELLIOT (Richmond) (13:29): Recently, the New South Wales government announced the site of the new Tweed Hospital to be built on a 23-hectare site at Cudgen. It's understood there were more than 30 potential sites. Since the announcement, there's been widespread community concern about the chosen location, especially as it is on prime agricultural land in an area that is one of the largest producers of sweet potatoes in New South Wales. Whilst we all support better health outcomes, we're all alarmed by the cloak of secrecy surrounding the selection of the location and the fact that the Berejiklian government refused to engage in any community consultation prior to the announcement. There has been no transparency in this decision-making process. The Tweed Hospital is under enormous pressure, and better hospital services are needed. But locals were not consulted. The decision was just dropped on the community without giving them any proper input at all.

I support New South Wales Labor's call for an independent external auditor to be appointed to examine all the documentation relating to the government's selection of the location. It's time for the government's secrecy to end. It's important to note that, in 2002, the land was designated and classified as land of state significance due to its rich, red volcanic soil. Many in the community have raised their concerns that property developers have been seeking its rezoning since the 1980s. The community is also very, very concerned that this is a backdoor means to allowing overdevelopment. The fact is, the North Coast has been neglected by the Nationals. We do need better health services to respond to growing demand and the ageing population, but we need decisions made with proper consultation and transparency.