People power has won out.
While Gareth Ward going against his own government may not be the death knell, it is a critical point in the fight against plans to part-privatise the Shellharbour Hospital.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra confirmed the news to the Illawarra Mercury on Tuesday.
Up until that point, Mr Ward had stood firm asking for calm and asking people to hear the government’s plans in detail before passing judgement.
There was only one problem.
The plan wasn’t forthcoming.
A groundswell of public opposition continued to grow.
Public meetings saw strong turnouts and passionate opposition, not just from the health professionals impacted.
Those who attended the public meeting at The Shellharbour Club can attest to the level of discontent in the community.
To his credit, Mr Ward attended that meeting as a lone voice in support of his government and did not take a backwards step.
He argued strongly people should wait for the plan – ultimately the wait has been fruitless.
People feared the devil was in the detail of the government’s plan.
So the sand in Mr Ward’s hourglass has run dry.
‘’It’s tough to take a stand against your own government but the community has spoken loud and clear,’’ Mr Ward told the Illawarra Mercury’s health reporter Lisa Wachsmuth on Tuesday.
Mr Ward today will meet NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and formalise his stance.
The Member for Kiama will now stand with the community.
He will call on the NSW Government to get on with the $251 redevelopment of the Shellharbour Hospital and drop all other plans.
You can imagine how well that conversation will go down.
Yet the Premier and the NSW Government is left with little choice.
If it continues to push ahead with this plan it does so without any voice of support in this community or surrounds, remembering the Wollongong City Council has stood united with the Shellharbour Council against the proposal.
Yes, Gareth Ward’s decision has put the government’s plans in the acute care ward.