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Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Page: 9266

Mr HARTSUYKER (7:45 PM) —The forthcoming Port Macquarie by-election will give people in the electorate of Port Macquarie the chance to send the New South Wales Labor government a very clear message. It is an opportunity to take a step towards ridding New South Wales of probably the most incompetent government in this nation’s history. It is interesting that, in every electorate where Labor have run a candidate, they have gone backwards since the election of the Rudd Labor government.

We have a good candidate on behalf of the Nationals in Port Macquarie in Leslie Williams. She is a hardworking and well-respected member of the community who knows in great detail the health issues. Leslie will work hard for the community of Port Macquarie and will certainly be tireless in ensuring that Port Macquarie gets the sort of representation that it has failed to have for many years. Opposing Leslie are a range of Independents, a gaggle, who cannot deliver for those constituents, who cannot command a majority in the lower house and who will never be part of government.

It is interesting to reflect on the performance of the previous member, Mr Robert Oakeshott. In 2003 he committed to:

… making certain that appropriate levels of funding are provided to Port Macquarie Base Hospital so that local residents can make full use of the excellent medical services available. This will include advocating for additional funds to reduce the inequitably high waiting lists at Port Macquarie Base Hospital.

That was the promise. Let us look at what was actually delivered. In 2007-08, 163 elective surgeries were not performed on the scheduled day due to a shortage of beds, 70 due to a lack of theatre time and 336 due to the precedence of emergency surgery, and 24 per cent of cancellations, some 234 cases, were caused because surgeons or anaesthetists were not available.

A local doctor said that almost 60 per cent of the 981 elective surgery cancellations in the past financial year could have been avoided by increasing hospital capacity. The hospital was only built to handle some 12,000 to 14,000 presentations per year. The number predicted for this year is a massive 32,000, which will mean it will be servicing more than double the current capacity. Is that delivering for constituents? I think not.

In 2003 Mr Oakeshott also committed to seek continued improvement to public dental health services. Currently, dental services on the North Coast are in a state of crisis, with 20,000 people waiting to see a public dentist. Again in 2003 Mr Oakeshott said:

Considering the growth in Port Macquarie and the demands on the Base Hospital’s services, a 4th ‘wing’ could house services such as administration, improved mental health, intensive care and even the option of a helipad—all within close access to the Accident and Emergency Unit.

The people of Port Macquarie are still waiting for a fourth wing. They have been listening to the endless rhetoric of Independents now for years. They face a choice between Leslie Williams, the National Party candidate, a tireless worker, a candidate who will work as part of the National Party team, and a range of Independents who will masquerade rather than deliver. When you equate the promises made by Mr Oakeshott with what was actually delivered it tells a very different story. It tells the story of the endless rhetoric of Independents compared to what can be delivered as part of a team.

Members on both sides of this House deliver for their constituents because they are part of a team. No one member in this House can command a majority or pass legislation without the assistance of their colleagues. It has been a myth perpetuated by a range of Independents over the years that they can actually deliver outcomes. They receive outcomes as a gift from the party in power rather than actually delivering and doing the hard yards on behalf of their constituents.

I wish the people of Port Macquarie well in their deliberations this weekend. I am confident that they will see and support Leslie Williams as the person to represent them in the New South Wales parliament.