Foley supports St George hospital upgrade


Originally published: Sutherland Shire Leader

By Murray Trembath

New state Opposition Leader Luke Foley has reaffirmed Labor's $300 million commitment to upgrade St George Hospital.

Visiting Kogarah on his first full day in the job, Mr Foley also stressed the importance of the district to Labor's hopes of regaining government at the March election and discussed other local matters of importance.

Mr Foley was elected unopposed at a caucus meeting on Monday after John Robertson resigned over "routine" representations he made on behalf of Martin Place siege gunman Man Haron Monis, a constituent, in 2011.

Mr Foley said the hospital upgrade, originally promised by Mr Robertson, would add extra storeys above the emergency department, including new intensive care, high dependency and cardiac intensive care units, and expanded operating theatre capacity.

He said work would start "within Labor's first four year term".

The government, which completed a new emergency department last year, has also promised the further redevelopment.

In last year's budget, the government projected a completion date of 2021-22, but Health Minister Jillian Skinner said work would start in 2015 and "I anticipate the project will be completed in the next term of government [which ends in March 2019]".

Mr Foley said, if Labor was to win the election, it needed, among other results, to retain the seat of Kogarah and regain Rockdale and Oatley.

"I think Labor is putting its best foot forward in this area with three terrific candidates in Chris Minns [Kogarah], O'Bray Smith [Oatley) and Steve Kamper [Rockdale]," he said.

He blamed the loss of Oatley and Rockdale at the 2011 election on "longevity of the former government".

Mr Foley said Labor had to win back the trust of the community and "earn our future".

He claimed his appointment of Jodi McKay, the Labor candidate for Strathfield, to Labor's front bench even before she had secured a seat in Parliament, demonstrated his determination to clean out corruption.

Ms McKay, who was the subject of a smear campaign by Labor colleagues when she was the MP for Newcastle, would be the Planning Minister in a Foley government, he said.

"She came out of all the ICAC hearings in 2014 as the one person in politics revealed to be incorruptible," he said.

Mr Foley said his main focus if he became Premier would be to create jobs in suburbs close to where people lived.

"That's the real congestion buster for Sydney," he said.

"No matter how many new lanes you build on motorways or new trains you put on, [traffic] congestion will swamp Sydney if everyone has to go to work in the CBD."

Mr Foley said Labor would create a "genuinely powerful Greater Sydney Commission, sitting at the heart of government", to co-ordinate planning.

Unlike a similar commission proposal by the government, which he claimed was "a desk in the Planning Department".

Originally published as: Foley supports St George hospital upgrade