Matters of State | New Ian Locke Building

It gave me great pleasure last week to officially unveil the new Ian Locke Building and George Hatch Medical Library at Dubbo Hospital.

Unveiling: Dubbo Hospital general manager Debbie Bickerton with Troy Grant at the opening of the Ian Locke Building and George Hatch Medical Library.

Unveiling: Dubbo Hospital general manager Debbie Bickerton with Troy Grant at the opening of the Ian Locke Building and George Hatch Medical Library.

Both men played major roles in the medical sector in this town, and through their work at Dubbo Hospital also served the wider region well.

Dr Locke was a renowned paediatrician, and it was terrific to see his wife Jennifer and other family members on hand to unveil the official plaque. George Hatch was a doyen of the nursing profession, who worked amazingly hard for this community.

Many of his former colleagues and proteges also attended the event, and it is wonderful that the memory of these two terrific men will live on through the new building, which is located in the old maternity ward section.

Debbie Bickerton and her team at Dubbo Hospital are doing a terrific job in maintaining quality medical services at the hospital while the construction work continues.

Creating unrest

Speaking of Dubbo Hospital, the outside section of the complex has certainly been in the news this week.

Claims by Dubbo Regional Council that they would gift land to the State Government to build an 88-space carpark have done nothing more than create unrest in the community.

Last week I put out a statement in relation to the council proposal, which outlined some key facts, the main one being that conceptual plans released by Dubbo Regional Council encroached on Crown Land.

For anything to happen on that land, an application would need to be made to change its classification from public recreation to operational.

Dubbo Regional Council manage the land on behalf of the NSW Government, but have not contacted either myself as the local member, nor the Minister for Lands Paul Toole, to discuss the issue.

If they had we could have avoided the whole situation, and the time and expense that council has gone to in order to create the plans could have been saved.

If NSW Health or the Western NSW Local Health District had plans for a carpark in that area, they would create one.

The debate isn’t whether the hospital should have adequate parking, we all believe it should, but some misleading language about an apparent  ‘simple’ solution, which isn’t so simple, needed to be corrected.

Sentencing

During the week I was part of a major announcement with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Attorney General Mark Speakman in relation to sentencing for people caught deliberately causing fires that endanger the community.

Under the new law, anyone caught deliberately starting a bush fire will face a maximum sentence of 21 years imprisonment – up from 14 years.

Unfortunately, on too many occasions we have seen how devastating bushfires can be, and with the promise of a long, hot summer on the way we need to be ensuring those people that put people’s lives and properties in danger are dealt with accordingly.

In keeping with the theme of bushfire prevention, it was also terrific to announce that the Large Air Tanker (LAT) known as ‘Hunter’ will be based out of Dubbo this season.

The firefighting capabilities of aircraft such as Hunter are amazing, and for the craft to be in our region and ready to respond when called upon is a significant coup for regional NSW.

‘Hunter’ was actually was utilised on Sunday on the Rockview Fire near Tamworth, where it was dispatched to drop two loads of retardant.

Having ‘Hunter’ in our region will reduce the amount of time it takes to get assistance to any fires that do break out, and given that every minute counts when it comes to responding to these kinds of situations, we’re lucky to have the tanker on hand.

Until next week, Troy