NSW Premier Morris Iemma officially opens Lismore Base Hospitals new $38 million mental health unit.
NSW Premier Morris Iemma officially opens Lismore Base Hospitals new $38 million mental health unit. David Nielsen

Hospital plan 'at risk': Health Minister

STAGE three of the Lismore Base Hospital upgrade may be in jeopardy because of the Opposition's failure to support the privatisation of electricity assets, according to NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher.

A strong supporter of the privatisation plan, Ms Meagher said projects at hospitals in Lismore, Port Macquarie, Tumut, and Sydney's northern beaches were now in doubt.

“The Iemma Government has redeveloped the Mental Health Unit and is working on the new integrated cancer centre," Ms Meagher said.

"The next stage of the Lismore master plan, now at risk, would deliver a new clinical services block, which would expand the emergency department, expand surgery and intensive care units, and add additional ambulance services."

But Lismore MP Thomas George has dismissed the threats as 'bullying tactics'.

“It's the lowest order of blackmail that I've ever experienced, when health service and people are threatened and put at risk like this,” he said

“It just shows their arrogance. They've treated country and regional people, who have the most to lose out of the privatisation of power, with contempt.”

Mr George said he didn't believe the stage three upgrade of Lismore hospital was even on any Government funding plans.

“We were advised well before there was even any debate about electricity that it wasn't on any plan anyway.

“Now they are saying there is a black whole in the budget. It wasn't even in the budget.”

When Premier Morris Iemma opened the Mental Health Unit at Lismore in May The Northern Star asked him when the stage three upgrade would commence.

He was non-committal, saying only: “It's on the 10-year State Infrastructure Plan.”

However, Mr George had been unable to verify this.

“When we were fighting to maintain the rehabilitation centre (at Lismore), it was made clear that stage three would happen,” he said.

“Now here's Reba Meagher trying to hold the people of the Northern Rivers and their health services to ransom because the Opposition didn't support their privatisation of power.

"Every other Bill that has come before the House since I've been elected has gone through on party lines. So how can she blame the Opposition?

“The Liberals and Nationals have worked as a team on this import issue, which clearly showed that NSW Country, regional and coastal areas were not going to benefit from the privatisation plan.

"The money would be spent in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong.”



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