Government Policies

Mr CLAYTON BARR ( Cessnock ) ( 18:31 ): Since the announcement of the Sydney stadium rebuilds in November last year, I have been surprised at the level and breadth of concern and frustration across my community. Many important things have affected my electorate in the seven years since I became a member of Parliament, such as issues relating to workers compensation, council mergers, greyhound racing, removal of mental health nursing staff, decisions to downgrade some services, and decisions relating to the expansion of Cessnock Correctional Centre and the community’s concerns about becoming known as a jail town. As local members, we have a fairly good idea about which way people vote on any given day. We compete against each other to be voted into this place, but once we are voted in we represent everybody in our communities no matter how they vote.

In November and December last year, as all members do, I attended many end‑of‑year functions and events. School presentation days feature prominently in that time period, but there are also many other Christmas parties and celebrations held by different organisations. Whether I was at a business chamber, the Country Women’s Association, vignerons and the agricultural community, small sporting groups or any other organisations that I have the great privilege to represent, the issue of stadiums kept coming up. I support and endorse Labor’s policy to put schools and hospitals before stadiums. So many modest requests are made of us instead of the Sydney stadium rebuild.

In my electorate, schools in new development areas are overdue to be built; growing areas with no local high school; intersections on busy roads in front of schools; bus bays that need to be moved off busy roads and around to the back of schools; and hospital facilities that are more than 100 years old. I do not want people to lose sight of that: the two hospitals in the Cessnock area are more than 100 years old. They are still operating as best as they can with their aged facilities. There are many issues. However, people want paths and the local council would love to build a major, modern regional swimming pool. These are modest projects that could be funded in lieu of stadiums. I will read onto the record an email I received yesterday from a woman who was injured in my local area and who waited a considerable time for an ambulance. The email states:

Hello Clayton

I would like to draw your attention to an incident last Tuesday evening.

My husband and I were walking our dogs along Northcott street near Brandis street Aberdare.

Being the section of road that does not have a footpath, we were walking on the side of the road. As a car approached I went to move to the side of road were the gravel is.

Being dimly lit and not seeing that it was not a continual transition from the road to the gravel I have taken a very nasty hard fall.

My husband called an ambulance while I laid on the road.

Thankfully the lady in the car stopped and offered assistance by parking her car near by.

A follow up call was made to the ambulance and I cannot explain the amount of pain I was in.

I was unable to move and neighbours came and parked their cars around me for protection from cars coming and not being able to see me.

A third call was made by my husband although I believe other calls had also been made for an ambulance 45 minutes later just as the fire brigade arrived the ambulance finally arrived.

45 minutes on the side of the road in a city …. in town and I could not get an ambulance.

To follow on, I was taken to Maitland hospital… not Cessnock… were I stayed until Saturday afternoon I have bruised ribs, broken arm and broken ankle.

I am hoping while you are at parliament you might mention my absolute disgust disappointment and anger I have with the Premier.

45 minutes in agony waiting for an ambulance and our local hospital not being equipped to take me. But… we can use billions to rebuild sports stadiums.

I am shaking my head in disbelief.

I could not have made a more eloquent contribution about the controversy involving the stadium strategy. This retired woman fell and needed an ambulance and a ho spital that could treat her, but neither was readily available. While that is happening, we are arguing about spending billions of dollars on stadiums.