PARKING PROMISE: Govt's Tweed credibility on the line
THE NSW Deputy Premier says his party will honour the state election promise to provide free parking at the new $582 million Tweed hospital project.
However, the pledge is yet to get public backing from Health Minister Brad Hazzard who failed to respond to Tweed Daily News questions.
Nationals Leader John Barilaro stood by the party promise this week that free parking would be provided for visitors, parents and staff at the new Tweed Valley Hospital when it opens in 2023 - and will "continue to work closely with Health Infrastructure on achieving the best outcome for the Tweed community".
The issue raised its head again last week when Richmond Federal MP Justine Elliot accused Tweed MP Geoff Provest of falsely guaranteeing free parking at the to-be built facility in a "desperate act to hold his seat" at last year's election.
"(Mr Provest and the Liberal-Nationals Government) have been repeatedly asked by residents, local media and in the NSW parliament to come clean on their plans to impose paid parking at the new hospital - and on all occasions they have refused to do so."
Mrs Elliot has started a petition on the issue.
The Tweed Shire Council sent a letter last year to the State Government expressing concern about it position on free parking.
Mr Hazzard replied: "In 2013, NSW Health implemented a Hospital Car Parking Fees Policy. The Tweed Valley Hospital project will consider this policy as it reviews the funding options for carparking at the Tweed Valley Hospital."
On Thursday, Friday and Monday, the Tweed Daily News asked Mr Hazzard if parking would be free when construction of the project was complete, whether construction plans included the installation of paid parking metres and facilities, if either Mr Barilaro or Mr Provest had been in touch regarding the issue and if the hospital would have paid parking - when that decision changed and why. He did not reply.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest accused Labor of trying to muckrake an issue that did not exist.
"During the election we committed to having free parking at the hospital, and I am taking the deputy premier at his word," he said.
"I have had no advice to the contrary and delivery of this wonderful new facility is proceeding."
A Health Infrastructure spokesman said the Tweed Valley Hospital project remains on track for opening in 2023.
"The Stage 2 State Significant Development application seeks approval for more than
1500 on-site carparking spaces, including multi-deck, at-grade, mobility spaces and
short-term parking facilities," the spokesman said.
"It outlines a range of funding options being considered.
Across NSW, patients and carers saved an estimated $17 million dollars last year
through concessional parking.
"Local Health Districts use the revenue from carparking fees to contribute to the
operations and maintenance of car parks. In addition, net revenue from carparking fees
is invested in the delivery of services at the hospital.
"The NSW Government's investment in carparking facilities ensures that patients, their
families and hospital staff have adequate parking facilities to support the delivery of and
access to health services for local communities."