TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop – At Highfields Heath Care Imaging, Port Macquarie NSW, 11 March 2019
Subjects: Investment in a new PET scanner for Mid North Coast; upcoming election
It’s great to be here with Dr David Gillespie, the Member for Lyne; with the Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, and the Nationals candidate for Cowper, Pat Conaghan, today here at Highfields Health Care Imaging centre. This is fantastic to be here because we’ve opened the new Highfields facility – a PET scanner which is going to make such a difference for the people of the Mid North Coast. And I know important this is for the health needs of the people of the Mid North Coast.
I congratulate Highfields for the investment made here: $20 million for this new PET scanner to ensure that people of the Mid North Coast don’t have to travel to Sydney or Newcastle to get their imaging done. The people here, the Highfields people, have such care and support for the local community. They have invested $20 million, making sure that the healthcare needs of the Mid North Coast are taken care of.
Pat Conaghan has told me just how valuable this is going to be for the future healthcare needs of the Mid North Coast. He’s fighting hard to make sure that we build and we invest in more and better health services; more and better health programs, such as making sure that PET scanning accreditation is given. And I know how much of a difference this has made to Highfields. I know how much of a difference this has made right throughout rural and regional Australia; and I know that Leslie Williams, too, is fighting hard to make sure that health delivery is so prevalent for the New South Wales Government. It makes such a difference for people who live in coastal and regional areas.
I know that our Nationals candidates, our Nationals Members are fighting hard for better health delivery. We will continue to do that. We’ve invested so much money in getting more drugs and more medicines on the PBS. We’ve invested so heavily in better medical infrastructure. I congratulate the facility here, the investors here – particularly for using local contractors. This $20 million investment is going to make such a difference for people to be able to bulk bill their scans; for people to be able to get the help they need, the images they need when there is peace of mind in just going down the road to get this sort of service, rather than have to get in a plane or indeed to make the long drive to Newcastle or Sydney to get that scan. And as I’ve been reminded by my colleagues, when you go to Sydney, of course you’ve got to get around, you’ve got to get accommodation. You have here the peace of mind factors that they’re going to receive when they’re able to just come to a facility such as this to get the scan they need, the diagnosis they need, for their healthcare future.
So congratulations on this investment, this investment here at Highfields. It’s going to make such a difference for the Mid North Coast.
Why is it seen to be so vital here in an area like Port Macquarie?
It’s so that people don’t have to get in a car and have to travel to Sydney or Newcastle to get their scans. They can do it right here at home. They can do it by just travelling a few short minutes to this facility at Highfields.
It makes such a difference for them. It gives them peace of mind. We spoke to Bob, who was the first patient here and he was so thankful that he was just able to get his scans; that he was able to get home on the same day, no drama, no stress. And you know, when you’re in pain the last thing you want to have to do is travel a long journey; the last thing you want to have to do is have to book accommodation and go through all that worry and stress. You want to be able to do it in your home town.
So that’s why it’s fantastic that we’re able to do it here at Port Macquarie. I know how much of a difference this is going to make. I know how hard that Pat Conaghan is fighting for better health services, for more health services. Dr David Gillespie, of course, and Leslie Williams – they were health professionals in their previous careers before they got into politics, and they’re also going to Canberra and Macquarie Street, respectively, and fighting hard for better health services for the Mid North Coast. That’s what National Party Members do. That’s what National Party candidates do, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.
There’s a big Nationals presence on the Coast at the moment – five politicians at one opening. Is that because there’s some concern about the upcoming elections?
No, that’s because we’re interested. That’s because we care. And of course, Luke Hartsuyker is retiring after 17 years of valuable service to the people of Cowper. He’s served the communities of Coffs Harbour particularly but also Port Macquarie very, very well. Of course, Dr David Gillespie and I have been colleagues for years. He’s been fighting hard for the people of Lyne.
We’ve got, obviously, a new candidate for the seat of Cowper in Pat Conaghan. I know how much he cares about the healthcare needs of the people of the Mid North Coast, and of course, Leslie Williams and I have been very, very good friends for many, many years and I know for her, State politics is very important at this time, given the fact that we’re two weeks away from an election. But when you think about what the Liberal-Nationals have done in the State Government since 2011: Of the 78 new medical facilities, right up from large hospitals to small MPSs right across the state, they’ve build 48 of them in regional and coastal New South Wales. That’s an amazing investment and I know the fact that the $4.2 billion – thousand million dollars – from the sale of the Snowy Hydro is going to infrastructure in regional New South Wales.
So, that’s only possible because you’ve got a National Party in there fighting hard for better services, particularly in health but also roads and other infrastructure needs of regional and coastal areas. So in two weeks’ time people need to get behind Leslie Williams because she will continue to deliver, and only the Nationals in Government can do that. And of course, after that, in two months’ time we have David Gillespie and Pat Conaghan going to continue to serve the needs of Lyne and Cowper to make sure that health and roads and other infrastructure continues to be delivered for the people in the Mid North Coast.
Just quickly from Canberra, do you feel Barnaby Joyce is stalking you and is he distracting you during this campaign?
No I don’t. I’m not distracted at all. I’m looking forward to getting up to Coffs Harbour to talk about all the important things that we’re doing. This morning I went to the Garden Village where we looked at the retirement village there, the aged care facility there where we’ve just announced a $5 million investment in more residential units, in better aged care services for the Mid North Coast. Later this morning, I’m going up to Coffs Harbour for a sports stadium announcement there, a sports stadium opening there.
These are the sorts of things that the Nationals do in Government. We continue to deliver the Building Better Regions Fund, the Regional Jobs and Investment program, the Regional Growth Funds; those sorts of things only come because you’ve got a Nationals representation, a Nationals presence fighting hard in Government. And I have to say, particularly for the people of the Mid North Coast for whom franking credits is a very, very important issue, we’re not going to steal your retirement savings. The Liberal and Nationals’ Government is going to make sure, Pat Conaghan and David Gillespie are going to make sure that that money which is yours, which has already been taxed, continues to be yours so that you can buy your grandkids a present now and again, so that you can pay your car rego or go on that holiday that you deserve. We’re not going to steal your franking credits and nor are we going to change the negative gearing laws, so that investors such as police officers, our firies, ambulance officers, teachers can continue to invest in real estate, can continue to invest in their futures because that’s what it’s all about. Rest assured, Labor under Bill Shorten will take away all these regional programs, all these funding programs for coastal and rural areas, and they will also steal your franking credits and take away the negative gearing value that you’ve got now.
Barnaby Joyce referring to himself this morning as the elected Deputy Prime Minister - what do you think about that?
I haven’t heard that comment; I'd be very surprised if he made that comment. Quite frankly, Barnaby is also delighted at the Building Better Regions Funds that he's been able to deliver for the New England. He's been able to get out and make sure that he continues to deliver for New England. And I know he's been very, very active in the space of being a drought envoy and getting out to those communities which are really desperate for rain, those communities which are really struggling hard. The New South Wales and the Federal Liberal and Nationals’ Government have been there to support them, to stand shoulder to shoulder not just with our farmers but also with those small businesses in those rural areas which are so drought-stricken. I appreciate even on the Mid North Coast, it's dry here too, but particularly in some of those areas in North West and South West New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, they look like a moonscape at the moment. I'm delighted that Barnaby has been able to visit those communities, along with Major General Stephen Day to make sure that they're being listened to, to make sure that we're continuing to act in that space and we will continue to support our farming communities.
How much time is the pressure around leadership wasting your time on focusing on the campaign?
Probably about five minutes because you've been asking questions about this for now about five minutes. Quite frankly my focus, once we finish this interview, is going to be back on making sure that I continue to listen to the needs of the people of the Mid North Coast and indeed all of those people who choose to live, to work, to invest in regional areas. I mean why wouldn't you want to live in a regional area? It’s the best place in Australia to live. I want to make sure it's an even better place. I can only do that with the support of my colleagues. I'm looking forward to Pat Conaghan joining our team in Canberra to make sure that he continues to fight hard as he's done in so many capacities, in so many areas in Port Macquarie. I know David Gillespie is always concentrating, every waking moment is concentrating on building a better electorate of Lyne. That's what we do as National Party members. We don't focus inwardly, we don't focus on ourselves, we focus on the people who matter and that is the average ordinary everyday Australians who need us to continue to deliver for regional people and that's my only focus.
The state election is obviously two weeks away. It's unusual for the two elections to be so close together. Is it going to have impact on the federal election?
We'll just wait and see. I mean anybody who votes anything other than the Berejiklian and Barilaro Liberal and Nationals’ Government, quite frankly, probably should take a long hard look at what was delivered in the 16 years prior to 2011 and compare and contrast with what has been delivered since then. I'm old enough to know how bad it was under four different Premiers of a Labor variety during those 16 years - they did not care one iota about rural and regional New South Wales. They did not have one lever on the gears of making sure that rural and regional New South Wales was looked after.
We do. We care. That's why I'm delighted I've got such great colleagues as David Gillespie, as Pat Conaghan and I'm also very, very pleased that Melinda Pavey and Leslie Williams pick up the phone often to me and talk to me about the needs of infrastructure, talk to me about the needs of the Mid North Coast. That's what National Party people do. We concentrate on the things that matter and that is cost of living, power prices, better infrastructure, better roads. That's the sort of thing we're focused on. We're not focused on the personality of politics. We're focused on delivering. We're focused on making sure that we continue that delivery and the only way that people are going to get that continued delivery is to vote One for the Nationals to continue in both State and Federal spheres.
Thank you very much.