Advocates in the fight to retain aeromedical services at Albion Park are hopeful the state government will reverse its decision to remove the helicopter from the region when the issue is debated in Parliament in August.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said he didn’t have an inkling about the final outcome but hoped NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner would take a ‘‘common-sense position’’.
‘‘It’s fair to say, particularly after recent efforts, the impact of removing the service has become clear,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t know which way [the decision] might go but we can only hope our MPs continue to be persuasive in their debates.’’
Wollongong Labor MP Noreen Hay and Liberal member for Kiama Gareth Ward are both set to voice their opposition to the move.
On Tuesday, Mr Ward tabled a 12,000-strong petition against the plan, calling for the NSW government to reject the recommendation to relocate the helicopter.
‘‘The community has spoken loudly on the issue – they want aeromedical services operating out of Albion Park to be retained in order to ensure speedy response times ... ,’’ he said.
‘‘I look forward to arguing the case very strongly to retain this important service when it is debated in Parliament.’’
Ms Hay said she would take a firm stance to pressure the O’Farrell government to reconsider.
‘‘This vital service is imperative to our region – removal of the helicopter from Albion Park will jeopardise the safety of residents, particularly our steelworkers and mining sector in the Illawarra,’’ she said.
‘‘In emergency situations, where time is of the essence, it is completely unacceptable that the Illawarra will be deprived of efficient response to incidents and specialist field-trained doctors.’’
Mr Rorris said he was keen to see the debate flourish in Parliament, particularly after strong community opposition to the plan.
‘‘There’s no doubt that broad movement and community support for the helicopter service within the region has made a difference,’’ he said.
Figures obtained by the Mercury recently revealed the chopper had completed more than 400 missions in three years, carrying out 270 inter-hospital missions from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2012.
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