The Newman community remains in the dark over when it will get its long-awaited hospital upgrade after the Health Minister contradicted a construction timeline provided by the Member for Pilbara.
Under questioning by The Nationals WA in Parliament, the Health Minister Roger Cook refused to back comments made by Kevin Michel this month that tenders for the hospital re-build would go out by the end of 2019 and that construction would start next year.
Mr Cook hinted that Labor’s election commitment to provide $1.3 million for a renal dialysis unit in Newman was also on shaky ground.
“The Newman Hospital project is a longer term project and one which will be subject to Budget deliberations,” Mr Cook told Parliament on 13 February. “I can’t confirm the timeline that the Member for Pilbara spoke of.”
Leader Mia Davies said it was clear the Member for Pilbara had “spoken out of turn” and now needed to explain to the Newman community why he had not been able to convince his Perth-based Labor colleagues of the importance of the project.
“Again Labor and Kevin Michel have been found wanting on an important health issue in the Pilbara,” Ms Davies said.
“Six years since Labor vowed to rebuild the Newman Hospital and two years since promising to establish a renal dialysis service for Newman patients, they have delivered on neither.
“Worse still, the Health Minister has today confirmed that money for the renal dialysis service was still subject to the whims of the Budget process.”
In 2016 The Nationals WA committed almost $60 million to convert the existing Newman Hospital into a contemporary hospital with provision for private general practice.
“If we had of remained in Government after the 2017 election the project would now have been nearing completion, as expected, by mid-2019,” Ms Davies said. “Instead this Labor Government decided to shelve the project in favour of Metronet and pet Perth projects.”
Minister Cook agreed with the East Pilbara Shire president that the Newman Hospital was “no longer fit for purpose” but failed to articulate a plan to fix the facility.
Member for Mining and Pastoral Region Jacqui Boydell said if such a dilapidated health facility was located in the Health Minister’s metropolitan seat of Kwinana it would have been first cab off the rank for funding.
“We know when it comes to this anti-regional McGowan Labor Government that country health facilities always come a distant second to Perth projects,” Ms Boydell said.
“Last month the Treasurer announced that 100 per cent of the $185 million the State banked through the sale of the Government’s shareholding in Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) would be spent on Metronet.
“Just one per cent of that windfall would deliver Newman’s renal dialysis service.”