VIDEO: Speech: Eurobodalla Radiation Therapy Centre The Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, addressed Parliament today (November 22nd, 2022) on the Eurobodalla Radiation Therapy Centre Mrs Phillips said:
"With an aging regional population, my electorate of Gilmore on the New South Wales South Coast faces a number of challenges to access healthcare. So it is no surprise that improving access to local health services is a huge passion of mine.
Local people deserve to have affordable access to health services without the need to travel. It isn’t just my passion. We have a number of passionate local advocates as well, but tonight I just want to focus on a couple of fierce advocates in the Eurobodalla. One such advocate was so passionate about improving our health services, that he has hung up his stethoscope as it were, and replaced it with the Parliament. I have fought long and hard with the local Eurobodalla community, like the ONE Eurobodalla team, and fabulous local doctor, advocate, and now Member for Bega, Dr Michael Holland, for a Eurobodalla Radiation Therapy Centre in Moruya.
The recent Budget committed $8 million to finally make this a reality – a small portion up front, with the rest in reserve while we sadly try to convince the NSW Government to get on board. I have been horrified by the reaction of the NSW Government to our calls for this Radiation Therapy Centre. Who knew that life saving cancer treatment could be so controversial? It’s been an intriguing journey.
Perhaps it goes to show why Dr Holland’s predecessor failed to deliver this really important piece of health infrastructure over his many decades as Member for Bega. Something he would now love to be conveniently forgotten – well, I certainly haven’t. Straight after our commitment was announced, the then-Liberal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said there was no need for Labor’s commitment.
His statement, as quoted on WIN News:
“This is already in train to be delivered jointly by the Perrottet and Morrison Governments.”
He went further to say it was “Already underway”. Hmm. Interesting. Clearly the former Minister had missed something important. Because his NSW counterpart had the exact opposite to say – they weren’t doing it, full stop. Which, it so happens, remains their position. Confused? Yeh, me too. While it was true that the Liberals promised this centre in 2019 – they never delivered it!
The community is still trying to get the NSW Liberals – of which the former Member for Bega was a Cabinet Minister - to deliver. Here we are, three years after their commitment, with local people still travelling hours for treatment. Patients like Cathie Hurst from Bingie, diagnosed with cancer in March 2021, and forced to choose between Sydney or Canberra for her treatment. Two and a half hours to Canberra and more than four hours to Sydney. To get radiation therapy. Appalling.
I recently joined the new Member for Bega to receive a petition with more than 5000 signatures from local people crying out for this centre. The NSW Minister for Regional Health now says, three years after the Liberals promise, that she will employ a consultant to discuss this with key stakeholders. What more evidence could possibly be needed at this point? We know the need, we know the desire, and we need to get on with it. I was appalled when, just today, an article was published in the Daily Telegraph making some truly astonishing accusations.
The article suggested that our commitment to the Radiation Therapy Centre was a “defiant move” by a local doctor, Dr Holland, who has lived and worked in the community for years. Who knows the health services in this community better than anyone. They tried to suggest there was something sinister – hard to believe what could be sinister about providing life-saving cancer treatment to a region of 80,000 people. “Defiant” against a government who continues to fall back on reports, statistics.
Cathie is not a statistic. She is a person. This is what she told the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry in October last year:
“Travelling meant that I had to be prepared for whether I was going to vomit on a plane, have diarrhoea attacks or anything, which is highly embarrassing and concerning. You get shaky just thinking about can you get on that bus for that long or the train or whatever it was you were taking. The difference between that and actually having a hospital or a facility in your region where you can drive yourself, have your 15-minute radiation treatment and come home—it would make all the difference to people.”
Well, if pushing for this critical service is “defiant”. Then I stand “defiant” with Dr Holland, and the more than 5000 signatories of the community petition. Defiant against a state government that is ignoring the health needs of our community. We will continue this fight. Because the people of the Eurobodalla deserve access to life saving cancer treatment close to home.