HOSPITAL KERFUFFLE: There was a strong opposition to the new Tweed Valley Hospital being built on agricultural land.
HOSPITAL KERFUFFLE: There was a strong opposition to the new Tweed Valley Hospital being built on agricultural land. Scott Powick

Council has hospital complaint thrown out

A COMPLAINT submitted by the Tweed Shire Council to the NSW Ombudsman in relation to the location of the Tweed Valley Hospital has been dismissed.

A formal complaint was lodged on January 18 this year, in relation to the process NSW Health Infrastructure took to decide to build the new hospital on Cudgen farmland.

A formal letter from Deputy Ombudsman Chris Wheeler sent to Tweed Shire Council said no investigation would be conducted in relation to their complaint, due to a lack of evidence that there was any wrongdoing.

"Our office has decided not to take any further action on council's complaint," Mr Wheeler wrote.

"From the information available, it appears that Health Infrastructure considered the key issues raised by council's representations in December 2018 and sought and considered its own legal and expert advice.

"This office would only consider conducting an investigation if there was strong evidence of inappropriate conduct in relation to how Health Infrastructure's advice was obtained. The evidence available to this officer does not suggest this type of conduct occurred."

Councillor James Owen, who was against the complaint, was critical of his fellow councillors who supported this motion in January.

"This is another waste of council resources," Cr Owen said.

"It was a wild goose chase, looking for something that doesn't exist.

"It was another cynical use of council resources to support a broader political agenda for this area."

Cr Owen said he believed the decision to refer the actions of Health Infrastructure to the NSW Ombudsman was politically motivated and reflected poorly on the region.

"I think it is no coincidence that this Ombudsman referral was just in advance of the NSW state election," he said.

"Again council it is meddling not in its core issues of roads, rates and rubbish.

"I think we are a joke and a laughing stock.

"As we do this more and more people are scratching their heads and wondering."

Deputy Mayor Chris Cherry said the council made a sensible decision to refer the matter to the Ombudsman, stating it was imperative they ensure the process was conducted correctly.

"We asked for it to be investigated, it has been investigated and they have decided it needs no more scrutiny," Cr Cherry said.

"I think it was a really sensible decision by the council to hand everything over, the legal advice, which was indicating that the process which had occurred was not legally correct, and so we didn't spend anymore ratepayer's money.

"They have come down with their finding and we will respect that."