Speech to Parliament: Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital
I rise to speak on the topic of Hornsby hospital, which is the major public hospital in the electorate of Bradfield. It is a hospital in which fine medical staff work in very difficult circumstances. Much of the hospital is in very poor physical condition and frankly needs to be replaced in a wholesale fashion. Regrettably that has not happened, with the exception of one specific facility covering paediatrics, obstetrics and emergency. But the remainder of the hospital is an extremely poor condition. I recently had an opportunity to visit the hospital and I was shocked to see the dilapidated condition of many of the operating theatres and that the hallways, which run from the theatres back to the wards, are open to the elements and that the wards are in extremely basic condition. So poor is the physical condition of the hospital that the medical staff are conducting a campaign calling on the New South Wales government to urgently fund improvements to the facilities there. Just 2½ weeks ago I was with the chair of the medical staff council, Dr Richard Harris, in Hornsby Mall gathering signatures for a petition. That petition will be presented in this parliament, and I hope to be able to do that in coming weeks.
It is troubling when one looks at the way that public funding has been allocated for major capital investments in hospitals in New South Wales over the last 10 years. If you look at the hospitals which have received major funding, with only one or two exceptions there is a very consistent theme in the physical location of the hospitals. If you want to find out whether a hospital has received major capital funding you need to ask whether it is in a Labor held seat—a seat held by a Labor Party member of the New South Wales parliament. That is true of Auburn Hospital in the electorate of Auburn; it is true of Wyong Hospital in the electorate of Wyong; it is true of Campbelltown Hospital in the electorate of Wollondilly, of Concord Hospital in the electorate of Drummoyne, of Prince of Wales Hospital in the electorate of Coogee, of Liverpool Hospital in the electorate of Liverpool, of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in the electorate of Marrickville and of Westmead Hospital in the electorate of Parramatta. What is the common theme in all of these hospitals which have received major capital funding—for example, $178.5 million over six years announced in 2001-02 for major upgrades of Westmead and Auburn hospitals, $45.4 million announced in 2005-06 to upgrade Royal Prince Alfred and Concord hospitals or the $394 million expansion of Liverpool Hospital referenced in 2009-10? What is the common theme? The common theme is that every one of these hospitals is located in an electorate held by the New South Wales Labor Party. The electorate of Hornsby is held in the state parliament by a Liberal member—my colleague, Judy Hopwood—and it is a matter of considerable regret that something as important as health funding has been so clearly the subject of political decision making. Hornsby Hospital is a major facility which serves hundreds of thousands of people in the northern regions of Sydney. It is a matter of considerable regret that the people of this area of Sydney have been profoundly disadvantaged because of the political process and the political decision-making criteria applied to the allocation of public funding by the New South Wales Labor government.
It is a considerable shame that the members of the medical staff at this hospital feel it necessary to allocate their personal time to lobby the state government for additional funding. I am very pleased to be lending my support to their campaign, but I do ask the question: why is this necessary? It is a regrettable feature of the highly politicised decision making by the New South Wales Labor government. I say to that government on behalf of the people of Hornsby and the surrounding areas, give us a fair go for Hornsby Hospital.