The NSW state budget comes with gifts for Inverell that have been anticipated for years.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said the community’s “Christmases have come at once” thanks to $9-million funding for a new police station and an additional $30 million to fast-track stage two of the Inverell District Hospital redevelopment.
The last hospital announcement saw $25 million for stage one, to commence construction in August, fully funded. Stage one plans for the redevelopment of Inverell Hospital include the construction of a new and expanded emergency department, new 38-bed inpatient unit, paediatric facilities and new main entry and admissions area.
“The budget also allocates an extra $30 million, so the redevelopment is now a $60 million project and that comes on the back of calls from myself, council and the community to fast track stag two,” Mr Marshall said. “We can now full scope and go out for tender for stage two of the hospital redevelopment before the end of the calendar year.”
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Mr Marshall said the windfall was the culmination of a lot of hard work and perseverance by many in the community, including local GPs, Inverell Shire Council and hospital staff. He especially singled out Bob Bensley, who has been “a tireless campaigner for the project for decades.”
For Mr Bensley, campaigning has been a roller-coaster ride. Last November, prospects looked grim. “Seven months later, with no fuss whatsoever, Adam has a budget providing a second new theatre, community health moving up a hill, a CT scanner and we are now getting a very nice new hospital,” he said. “In six months he’s been clever enough, powerful enough to have taken double the money.”
Mr Bensley has just one concern. A hospital will need to be properly staffed and a lot of effort will be needed to make sure this will happen.
Inverell Shire Council Mayor Paul Harmon sees the upgrade as going hand-in-hand with the community’s own growth. The tenders are to be released soon and he is “looking forward to welcoming the construction crews in our community and seeing the security fencing up.”
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