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GOULBURN HOSPITAL REDEVELOPMENT

Ms PRU GOWARD (Goulburn—Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Medical Research, Assistant Minister for Health, Minister for Women, and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault) [6.05 p.m.]: Congratulations, Mr Temporary Speaker on your appointment. As long as you give up smoking you will live to enjoy it. This is a great opportunity to acknowledge the extensive commitment that the Baird Government is making in the Goulburn electorate, particularly to health services. I agree with my friend Gareth Ward, the member for Kiama, and acknowledge it is critical to have good quality health services in regional areas. The more isolated one is, the more important it becomes.

I understand that the people of Wagga Wagga and Bega live a great distance from a major health centre and it might have been a priority for them, but the time has come for the electorate of Goulburn. We now have a significant commitment of $120 million for the redevelopment of the Goulburn Base Hospital, which is an old hospital. It has probably been on the waiting list for renovations for longer than some people in this Chamber have been alive. The member for Wollondilly referred to the $54 million that has been allocated for the refurbishment of the Bowral and District Hospital. Goulburn and Bowral, like the rest of the Goulburn electorate, are bedevilled by their proximity to major centres. Goulburn, Yass, Boorowa and Gundaroo are all within the orbit of Canberra, which makes investment in significant facilities such as hospitals—and schools—a particular challenge because it is much easier to put somebody in an ambulance and send him or her to Canberra.

Fortunately this Government has recognised the importance of redeveloping the Goulburn Base Hospital. It is an hour's drive from Canberra, but it is the centre of a significant agricultural and service city. The redevelopment of the hospital will be a significant enhancement for health services in the district and it will enable us to attract more clinicians. It is often observed that we have difficulty filling clinical posts. Fortunately we do not have trouble filling physiotherapy positions. I take this opportunity to give my thanks to the physiotherapists at Goulburn Base Hospital who put my back in order in record time. I attended only two physiotherapy sessions. The physiotherapist was young and stern. I was intimidated and did exactly as I was told, with good results. I also acknowledge the great service my husband, David, received at the Goulburn Base Hospital when he was ill recently.

The importance of redeveloping the two hospitals is not the only thing that brings me to the Chamber this evening; we have been able to invest $11.7 million in Yass Health. Yass is just over 60 kilometres from Canberra along the Barton Highway, which would be familiar to many members. It, too, is bedevilled by its proximity to a tertiary hospital, but in this term in office the Government is investing in a multipurpose centre that will have some aged care beds. Its large ambulance station, which is in the middle of town, will be redeveloped. Yass Health is on its way with some redevelopments at Yass District Hospital.

We will be well placed to serve a rapidly growing population—a young population, but a population that is much less than an hour's drive from a major tertiary hospital and an hour's drive from what will be a grandly redeveloped Goulburn Base Hospital. We are a community with an electorate of 18,500 square kilometres and we are challenged by our proximity to Canberra. But we are also a community blessed by a rural lifestyle and the strength of our communities. An enormous amount of driving is involved. The Nationals told me that I have a tiny electorate, but taking into account my driving expectations it has been a huge step up. Over the next four years my husband, my staff and I look forward to getting to know everyone very well—thank you, Brooke and Rachel—as we spend many hours in the car driving around the beautiful Goulburn electorate and celebrating all that is good about regional New South Wales.

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Pru Goward

Member for Goulburn

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Authorised by Pru Goward, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000