Mullumbimby Hospital.
Mullumbimby Hospital. Blainey Woodham

$1 hospital price tag: 'An incredible win for community'

Thursday 8.36am: BYRON Shire Mayor Simon Richardson has called the decision to sell the Mullumbimby hospital site "an incredible win for the community." 

"It goes to show that when we all work together: political parties, groups, government levels and individuals - we can achieve anything," he said.

"Today is a wonderful day indeed," he said.

Byron Shire Council is expecting the formal notification to arrive over the coming days, but in the meantime will be organising inspections out to the site.

"We know the building has asbestos but the inspections will give us a better understanding of the clean-up, if there are sections that can be saved, or demolish and start again," Cr Richardson said.

"And it's an exciting conversation coming up with residents about the potential future use of the site." 

MHAG Chair Michael Pelmore said: "We are very excited that after so long, the community has finally secured the hospital site and are moving forward to work with council and community to determine future uses. Profound thanks to the community and all contributors."

Deputy Mayor, Cr Basil Cameron said: "This is a fantastic result for the community. A huge thank you to the thousands of people who have worked for decades to create and care for the hospital site. A significant part of our heritage has been retained for the future of the Mullumbimby community due to the determination of all."

Mike New of the Community Alliance said: "A magnificent result illustrating the power of our amazing community.

"Thanks to the 25 shire wide groups who came together over the last month to make this all possible, especially to MHAG who carried the baton for years now, to the council and politicians and to the 350 people who took to the streets to have our voice heard.

"We look forward to working together with all stakeholders in an open collaborative planning process that will create a beautiful result for the use of the land for the community," Mr New said.

Mayor Richardson also thanked the Hon Ben Franklin MP for his community support of the purchase.
"Ben's strong support for his local community has been integral in getting today's outcome," he said.


Wednesday 5.17pm: GREENS Member for Ballina Tamara Smith paid tribute today to the community members who have fought for several years to retain the Mullumbimby and District War Memorial Hospital in community control.

"Congratulations to the Mullumbimby Hospital Action Group and the community for forcing the government to recognise that it is community land," Ms Smith said.

The NSW government has offered to sell the hospital site to Byron Shire Council for the nominal amount of $1.

"Politicians always like to claim that they deliver things but we know that it is the community standing up for what's right that has gotten this great progress towards retaining the site as community land.

"The challenge we have now is to make sure that the State government is the one that pays for the decontamination of the site and not the ratepayers of Byron Shire.

"I expect that Byron Shire Council will undertake extensive and nuanced community consultation in order to truly assess the community's will on the future use of this land," said Ms Smith.


Wednesday 14.37 pm: THE former Mullumbimby Hospital site will be offered to Byron Shire Council for $1.

Ben Franklin, Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, today announced that the NSW Government would offer to sell the Mullumbimby District Hospital site to Byron Shire Council for $1.

"This is a terrific outcome for the community. It was very clear to me at the rally held on April 23 that there is enormous support for retaining the site in the community's hands in perpetuity. And I have heard a range of wonderful and innovative suggestions for its future use," Mr Franklin said.

In a statement Mr Franklin said he convinced the Health Minister to stop the proposed demolition of the hospital and to allow the council to offer a "reasonable" price to buy the site.



The old Mullumbimby Hospital.
The old Mullumbimby Hospital. Benjamin James Wilson

On April 26 he met with Mayor Simon Richardson and General Manager Ken Gainger to discuss the options on how to proceed.

"At the April 26 meeting with Council, we agreed that all parties would try to convince the Health Minister to gift the site to Council, particularly as they will have to take full responsibility for any required remediation," Mr Franklin said.

"I am delighted to have been able to achieve that and thank the Mayor and Council for the constructive way they have handled the issue," he said.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard congratulated Mr Franklin for his tireless advocacy for the Mullumbimby community.

"Your local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin has been relentless on this issue," Mr Hazzard said.

"He made it clear to me that he felt that the community, through the council, should receive the site for a token amount. His passionate advocacy has led to this result," he said.

Due to the asbestos contamination of the site, the government said they still believe the most sensible outcome is for the council to demolish the buildings. However, the council now has the opportunity to suggest other approaches to make the site safe for the community.

For full transparency on hazardous materials on the site, NSW Health will make available to the council all Hazmat reports and other relevant documentation.

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