Now Labor craves action on Bulli Hospital

Member for Keira Ryan Park (left) and NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson outside Bulli Hospital yesterday. The Labor politicians have called for a $9.4 million upgrade and have launched a petition demanding the future of the hospital be debated in Parliament. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Member for Keira Ryan Park (left) and NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson outside Bulli Hospital yesterday. The Labor politicians have called for a $9.4 million upgrade and have launched a petition demanding the future of the hospital be debated in Parliament. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

How quickly things change.Late last year, a Liberal opposition stood outside Bulli Hospital chastising a Labor government for the progressive downgrading of the facility.Eleven months and a state election later, the hospital was the scene of more political posturing yesterday, only this time it was Labor demanding action from the Liberals.In calling for a $9.4 million upgrade, NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson refused to admit his party was responsible for Bulli Hospital's funding and staffing shortages."You can trawl over what is history [but] what we have is a set of circumstances now where Bulli Hospital is being neglected by this Government," Mr Robertson said.He questioned why the O'Farrell government had not matched Labor's pre-election commitment to build a $9.6 million integrated primary health centre on the hospital's grounds.The project received no funding in this month's state budget.Mr Robertson and Member for Keira Ryan Park launched a petition demanding the hospital's future be debated in Parliament.The issue will only be discussed if the petition attracts 10,000 signatures.When asked if the petition would be more legitimate had it been created by the community instead of Labor, Mr Park said he had not sought to make the issue a political one."But the fact of the matter is this, the Government, when in opposition, made it very clear Bulli Hospital would be one of their priorities," Mr Park said."We've had a budget, there was nothing delivered, so it's up to me as a local member to raise the community's concerns at the highest level."Mr Park said a petition would force Health Minister Jillian Skinner to outline publicly her vision for the hospital.In October last year, Ms Skinner suggested Bulli Hospital could be the worst in the state with regard to a lack of doctors.The hospital's emergency department is regularly shut due to shortages.The 2008 Garling inquiry into NSW hospitals recommended the permanent closure of Bulli Hospital's emergency department.Ms Skinner yesterday said NSW Labor had tried to close Bulli Hospital "by stealth over many years and would never come clean about its plans for the hospital's future"."I support the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District's plan to provide a hospital that caters for the needs of the community."