Health services — or more importantly the lack thereof — are shaping up as a key issue for Deniliquin in the lead up to next month’s state election.
It has been brought right into the spotlight with an announcement from One Nation candidate Tom Weyrich that his party will support a $100 million redevelopment of Deniliquin Hospital.
This goes far and beyond the commitment of incumbent Nationals’ Member for Murray Austin Evans, whose best effort so far has been to suggest there is a ‘moderate’ chance that Deniliquin Hospital may get $1.5 million in improvements, being the same work to which Murrumbidgee Local Health District committed about a year ago.
The other health issue last week was the rally by local nurses seeking improvement in their nurse to patient ratios.
Their cause has been supported by SFF candidate Helen Dalton, though we haven’t seen that support from Mr Evans. Like other issues, he is probably afraid to get involved for fear he is not toeing the party line.
We believe Mrs Dalton’s next foray into the health debate should be committing, alongside One Nation, to the $100 million for Deniliquin Hospital.
Latest polling suggests New South Wales could have a hung parliament after the March election, with minor parties including One Nation and SFF holding the balance of power.
This would give either of these parties an opportunity to make good on the One Nation promise by taking money from the Sydney stadium project and transferring it to regional health services.
We also challenge Mr Evans to commit his government to providing $100 million to Deniliquin Hospital.
This would go a long way to showing the Deniliquin district that he will fight for this region and its future — something we have not adequately seen to this point.
The recent record of Mr Evans and his Nationals’ colleagues on health and various other important services has been underwhelming.
They have failed us on health.
They are failing us on education, as was highlighted in our article in Friday’s edition on desperately needed upgrades at Deniliquin High School.
They have failed us on water policy. Mr Evans has been unable to influence the Department of Industry – Water which continues to ignore the plight of local food producers who remain on zero allocation, and his party is complicit in a Murray-Darling Basin Plan that is rapidly becoming a Murray-Darling Basin Disaster.
They have failed us on policing. Mr Evans refused to oppose the downgrading of Deniliquin Police Station, only months after a new $18 million station was opened.
The Nationals have also failed to fulfil a commitment a decade ago to stop the Deni Ute Muster paying about $100,000 a year for police services.
The list goes on.
Either Mr Evans and his Nationals must start recognising the needs of this region and take positive action, or we will have no choice but to continue advocating a vote for a minor party next month in the hope they will do better.