CONTENDERS for the seat of Tamworth know health is going to be a key battleground, after a recent poll by The Leader found the issue was the biggest concern of local voters.
Independent candidate Mark Rodda said he had a personal motivation to ensure the electorate had premium health services.
“Three of my six kids have special needs, so I really understand the importance of a great health system,” Cr Rodda said.
“I think the NSW government has dropped the ball on health. The Banksia mental health unit is a big one, a new Gunnedah hospital is another.
“There has been talk about infrastructure initiatives in the last few months, but these big-ticket things should have been planned in the last eight years.”
Nationals MP Kevin Anderson said the ball was already rolling on a new Banksia.
“We’ve set up a design group with Tamworth Mental Health Carers’ Support Group and Hunter New England Health,” Mr Anderson said.
“While that work is going on, we’ve kept our eye on the ball and continued to upgrade sections of Banskia so patients can continue to get well while being treated in the current facility.”
Labor’s Stephen Mears said regardless of the election outcome, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in the region “is a must”.
“It’s a necessity and shouldn’t be used as a political point-scoring exercise,” Mr Mears said.
“There is a very strong push from Labor for more drug and alcohol facilities. They’ve already committed $100 million to six new facilities, with four in regional NSW.
“This region would have to be one of the front runners.”
Health is the “number one priority” of Shooters, Fishers and Farmers’ Jeff Bacon.
“Everyone I’ve talked to in the community share the same thoughts on health,” Mr Bacon said.
“The nurses-to-patient ratio situation is a classic example.
“You shouldn’t have people protesting in Manilla’s main street for better working conditions for nurses, it’s reprehensible.
“We’ve had almost eight years now of a Nationals MP in this seat and we’ve seen nothing but decline in health and health services.”