THE FEDERAL Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, will this week step into the ring with rooky contender Kevin Hogan to debate the region’s ‘hospital crisis’.
Last week, Mr Hogan, who is running for Ms Saffin’s seat at this year’s Federal election, threw down a challenge to debate Ms Saffin, who has been representing the region in Parliament for more than two years, on the region’s hospitals.
“Bring it on,” Ms Saffin said.
“Mr Hogan needs to explain to the local community why he is standing for a political party which starved our hospitals of funding, particularly in regional Australia.”
In accepting the challenge Ms Saffin said she would use the debate to highlight her achievements on health care for the region during her term in Canberra.
“I have been able to deliver $15 million for Lismore Base Hospital’s integrated cancer care centre and $8.3 million for extra beds and staff in its emergency department, and $19 million for Grafton Base Hospital’s redevelopment of its operating theatres and emergency department,” Ms Saffin said.
The Rudd Government has a National Health and Hospital Networks Plan for more action on the ground and the biggest reform of health care since Medicare, Ms Saffin said. The opposition did not.
Mr Hogan, running on a Nationals ticket, said hospitals were a number one issue in the Northern Rivers.
“I will look forward to the debate because it is a big issue in the local electorate,” Mr Hogan said.
“It will be good for the people in the electorate to hear the different opinions and ideas held by the different parties.
“Most people agree the State Labour Government can’t run hospitals well. We don’t get the bang for buck. Most other states do better.”
Mr Hogan said he held grave concerns about the current ‘crisis’ in our local hospitals and the impact of the Rudd reforms on smaller hospitals in the region.
“People need to be properly informed about Labor’s rushed takeover plan, and I very much look forward to discussing this with the incumbent Page ALP Member,” Mr Hogan said.
The stoush will be held in the Lismore Workers Club tomorrow, while in Canberra Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will square off on the same issue at the National Press Club.
At an impromptu weigh-in last week Mr Abbott described Mr Rudd as a fake, a fraud and a phoney who should not be trusted to deliver health care services.
Mr Rudd said Mr Abbott was a political weather vane who had presided over a litany of health cuts and failures.
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