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Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Page: 5944


Mrs ELLIOT (Richmond) (19:40): I rise tonight to update the House on the latest instalment of lies, cuts and chaos by the Liberal and National parties on the New South Wales North Coast in my electorate of Richmond. First, let's deal with those lies. The latest one is about free parking at the new Tweed Valley Hospital. This one issue has caused huge anger, because our community has been betrayed by this broken promise by the Nationals. In a desperate act to hold his seat, Tweed Nationals MP Geoff Provest promised locals free parking at the new hospital for patients, visitors and staff. In fact, during the election campaign, Geoff Provest was interviewed and quoted in the Tweed Daily News on 9 February 2019, stating:

It's not going to be paid parking there, I have not heard of any adjacent land being offered or sold, we are going to have free parking here and we're not closing the old hospital down.

This was also later confirmed in writing to a local constituent who was seeking specific clarification regarding the promise of free parking. Geoff Provest's office replied in an email on 27 February 2019: 'Further to your inquiry, there is no specific media release stating that parking will be free at the new hospital, but this commitment was given in media interviews by both the Deputy Premier and the Minister for Health during visits to the Tweed. Geoff has also been quoted confirming that parking will be free.' That was in an email from his office.

But now, after the election, what happens? The truth comes out. According to recent reports in the Tweed Daily News on 19 October 2019, Geoff Provest now says, 'All options are on the table.' So we've gone from that commitment to free parking for everyone to now saying, 'All options are on the table'. This constitutes a blatant lie. Since these reports have appeared, I've been contacted by many locals who are furious at yet another Nationals broken election promise, this time on free parking. This is a complete betrayal of locals.

What makes this betrayal even worse is that it continues even at a local government level. Most recently, Tweed Shire councillors had the opportunity to vote for free parking at the new hospital. In light of the community concerns, our Labor councillor Reece Byrnes moved an amendment requesting that the Premier, the Deputy Premier and Geoff Provest keep their promise to locals and ensure that there's free parking at the new hospital. You'd think all the councillors would support this and vote for it, but the following three councillors didn't vote to support the motion for free parking: we have the Liberal councillor James Owen, we have the Nationals councillor Warren Polglase and we have the Liberal-National aligned councillor Pryce Allsop. These three all abandoned the people of our region. They don't support free parking at the new hospital. They don't support the community. They only support their National Party mate Geoff Provest. In light of this betrayal and on behalf of the community's urging, I've launched a petition to stop paid parking at the new Tweed Valley Hospital, and locals are sending a strong message to Geoff Provest and the Nationals about this important issue.

We've had a look at their latest lies. Now let's examine their latest cuts. Recently we heard about the Morrison Liberal-National government's plan to close three local Centrelink service centres in the Tweed area. They are set to relocate into one premise at a yet-to-be-determined location. Again, I've been inundated with concerns from locals about these changes, because this government just can't be trusted. I have written to the Minister for Human Services to seek his urgent commitment that there will be no redundancies or cuts to current staff numbers at any centre and no further decline in the delivery of frontline services for our community. The Centrelink service centre located at Blundell Boulevard in Tweed Heads South provides essential services that our community relies on. It is imperative it stays in that location so that it remains easily accessible. Seniors, veterans, people with disability, family, carers, locals seeking work and students all rely on these essential frontline services that our very important local Centrelink provides to the community.

It's clear to see the choices by the Liberal and National parties continue to hurt our region on the New South Wales North Coast. Through their cuts to frontline services in our community people are rightly feeling very betrayed. Whether it is at a federal government level, a state government level or, indeed, a council level as well, wherever you look across the region you see the disastrous impacts of the choices they've made and how much they are hurting our community. There is widespread anger out there about these issues. The fact is the choices that the Liberal and National parties make at all levels of government continue to hurt our community time and time again. It's time for the lies, cuts and chaos to stop.