The Cowra Guardian and Young Witness have teamed up to ask the candidates in the Cootamundra by-election a number of questions in the lead up to October 14. We will ask all candidates the same question and print their responses. We hope this will help you make an informed decision on October 14.
Question one – Health: What is your stance on an external investigation into the Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD), following attempts to close the maternity services at Temora Hospital?
Steph Cooke - National Party
"I don't need an inquiry to tell me the decision about the Temora hospital was wrong. Anyone who was truly part of the community knew it, and I was so pleased that former National Party Cootamundra MP Katrina Hodgkinson was able to secure the funding from the government.
People don't want endless inquiries, to tell them the obvious. They want someone that will hear their concerns and act on them. They want someone who can actually deliver fixes to the problems they encounter.
The only people who would be promoting an inquiry are people who don't have answers and who want to focus on problems, not solutions. I will always pick fixing an issue over whinging about it.”
Matthew Stadtmiller - Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party
I fear this cut was one of many rural funding cuts aimed at giving the Government a budget surplus.
I don’t buy the excuse from Health Minister Brad Hazzard that he did not know anything about the closure.
No public servant should be able to unilaterally cut a vital health service like the Temora Obstetrics Theatre closure we saw from the Murrumbidgee Local Health District. The timing of the closure was very close to a similar closure at Griffith Hospital being reversed.
A local doctor contacted the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party and after three days of public pressure locally and in Macquarie Street the closure was reversed.
So many unanswered questions are here and I want to see an independent investigation into the whole debacle so that it doesn’t happen again. Who really knew what and when?
Charlie Sheahan - Country Labor Party
I have serious concerns around central hubs delivering fair and equitable service to diverse communities in our rural regions.
In the case of some recent failures by the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, I support an external investigation.
The sudden decision to close Temora’s operating theatre and obstetric service because of an inability to fund necessary maintenance shows a serious lack of communication within MLHD and with the Health ministry.
On the eve of a by-election, this was a serious embarrassment to the government and was quickly rectified by the minister.
This has to raise serious questions about this Government's priorities and the distribution of funding to our community hospitals and health services, who receives and who doesn’t.
Jim Saleam – Independent
An Inquiry seems a very nice thing and it would make a lot of folk all warm, and some might think that they have done their public duty for pushing for one. I doubt it would resolve anything. The real question might be: why have a host of services (health, police, banking) vanished out of a large number of New South Wales country towns? No inquiry into a health service alone will answer that.
Jeff Passlow – Greens
As a local, I believe health should be one of the most important priorities of this electorate. I want to see a proactive health service that is based on primary health care and preventive health care measures, including health promotion, disease prevention, risk reduction and early intervention. The Greens traditionally support measures to alleviate social disadvantage and to address inequities in health outcomes. We need to work together to ensure that the MLHD is focused on the needs of people. Health service users have the right to participate in the planning of the delivery of services. For these reasons a review that allows community perspective and involvement in defining the direction of the MLHD is timely.