Luke Foley in Lismore on his campaign bus to oppose the state government's $2.7 billion plan to knock down and rebuild three sporting stadiums in Sydney.
Luke Foley in Lismore on his campaign bus to oppose the state government's $2.7 billion plan to knock down and rebuild three sporting stadiums in Sydney. Marc Stapelberg

Hospital a political footy in State Government debate

LISMORE has become the unexpected political football at the centre of the NSW Government's debate over sport stadiums versus hospitals.

Lismore Base Hospital was thrown into the spotlight yesterday when it became one of the NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley's first stops on his Schools and Hospitals before Stadiums campaign.

"I wanted to come to the Northern Rivers because when you talk about communities being left behind under this government and its stadium splurge, I immediately think of Lismore,” Mr Foley said.

"Where 10% of people who turn up to the emergency department sit there for eight and a half hours or more to be seen by a doctor.”

But sitting Lismore MP Thomas George said he was surprised to hear Lismore was the first regional stop on Mr Foley's week-long tour of NSW, as he believed the Base Hospital was neglected under the former NSW Labor Government.

"My first 12 years I was in opposition with the Labor Government and we can all well remember the condition of the Lismore Base Hospital and the need to have it upgraded,” Mr George said.

"Well it wasn't until we got into government that we've seen a commitment of something over $300 million to provide to the hospital we have.”

However, Mr Foley believes even more money needs to be invested into regional hospitals and schools, not replacing an 18-year-old stadium.

"It's purely and simply the wrong priority for our state this stadium splurge and that's why I'll fight it every week to the election,” Mr Foley said.

Like other controversial decisions the Liberal-National Government has floated over the years, Mr Foley expects this decision to also "back-flip”.

"I think (Ms Berejiklian) will fold here because she is on the wrong side of community opinion, she is on the wrong side on what's the right thing to do, which is like the Lismore Base Hospital,” Mr Foley said.

However, Mr George said that's not what he was hearing on the streets.

"Yes, they're spending money in Sydney, but also I'd like everyone to recognise that since we've been in government the Liberal-National coalition have spent over $100 billion in regional NSW,” Mr George said.



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