Luke Foley launches Country Labor campaign with new commitments for hospitals, roads and jobs

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Labor Leader Luke Foley has officially launched Country Labor’s campaign in Singleton today.

Mr Foley reaffirmed that more than $3 billion of Labor’s $10 billion infrastructure plan has been reserved for rural and regional NSW – without the need to privatise the electricity network. This is in addition to the $15 billion that is already budgeted for statewide infrastructure each year, regardless of which party is in Government.

Key Upper Hunter policy commitments without privatising electricity include:

  • $50 million for the Stage 2 and Stage 3 upgrades of Muswellbrook Hospital. More than doubling what the Baird Government has promised without privatising electricity.
  • $23 million for an Upper Hunter Roads Rescue Package. This will cover vitally needed projects in the Singleton, Gloucester, Dungog, Muswellbrook and Liverpool Plains Council areas. Examples include sealing the gravel section of Scone Road, sealing Merriwa Road, upgrading Glendonbrook Road and Brookers Bridge.

Key country NSW policy commitments without privatising electricity include:

Health

  • $400 million to establish co-located “one stop shop” regional healthcare services. Labor will match the Baird Government’s $300 million promise to the Regional Multipurpose Health Facilities Program and $100 million promise to establish a Regional Care Co-Location Program – without privatising electricity.
  • 840 new nurses across NSW as part of instituting one-to-three nurse patient ratios in emergency wards and paediatric units. Hospitals to benefit include Goulburn Hospital, Shoalhaven Hospital, Bega District Hospital, Kempsey Hospital, Bathurst Base Hospital, Kurri Kurri Hospital, Singleton District Hospital, Maitland Hospital, Muswellbrook Hospital and John Hunter Hospital.
  • 500 new paramedics across NSW – many of which will be based in regional areas.
  • Help for rural patients – $17 million funding boost for the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme.
  • Commitment to build the Lower Hunter Hospital in Maitland and keep it in public hands; while continuing public health services at the current Maitland Hospital site.

Roads

  • Commitment to key regional roads projects without privatising electricity including $177 million to build a new Grafton Bridge, $60 million to upgrade the Kings Highway and further upgrades of the Pacific Highway – with further announcements to come out of Labor’s infrastructure plan.

Jobs and Industry

  • $9 million investment in a Rail Trails strategy to stimulate regional economies;
  • New food exports strategy to grow jobs in regional food-producing communities and capitalise on the rapidly expanding Asian market; and
  • Lowering the racing tax to ensure parity with Victoria and create jobs in racing, retail, tourism and events in country towns including the Upper Hunter, the thoroughbred capital of Australia.

Drought Assistance

  • $1.5 million to double the number of Rural Support Workers;
  • Additional stock, fodder and transport subsidies;
  • Commitment to the $20 million extension of funding announced for water infrastructure grants.

Environment

  • Moratorium on coal seam gas activity in NSW – including Gloucester.
  • Protection of the Cliefden Caves near Orange.

Mr Foley was joined at the launch by Shadow Minister for Primary Industries Steve Whan, Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Affairs Mick Veitch; Country Labor MPs and candidates including Clayton Barr (Cessnock) and Martin Rush (Upper Hunter) and Hunter Labor candidates.

Quotes attributable to Labor Leader Luke Foley:

“Labor is offering country NSW a plan for jobs, growth and investment – not a plan for privatising the electricity network.

‘There’s a reason they call it Essential Energy – that’s because it is essential. If the Coalition is elected, as sure as night follows day, Essential Energy will be offered up for sale to Sydney’s elite institutions and overseas investors.

“The Liberals and Nationals are selling 100 per cent of Transgrid – the transmission network that covers the entire state.

“Make no mistake, Mike Baird and Troy Grant want to privatise the electricity network in every corner of the state.

“Once our country electricity assets are sold, they’re gone for good.

“The Liberals and Nationals are running from town to town blackmailing communities with extravagant promises all dependent on the risky sale of the electricity network.

“Labor’s commitments this election will all be delivered without privatising electricity – we will protect these valuable assets in public ownership.”

“Our priorities for country NSW are clear – people should be able to access high quality hospitals, schools and job opportunities no matter where they live.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Affairs, Mick Veitch:

“If you live in country NSW, you have the right to health care services that are equal to the city. Labor is making an unprecedented commitment to regional hospitals and health facilities at this election – without privatising the electricity network.

“We will deliver key regional projects such as the Grafton Bridge and the upgrades of the Kings and Pacific Highways without privatising electricity.

“The Liberals and Nationals have broken their central promise at the 2011 election to create 40,000 new jobs in rural and regional NSW. Instead, the regions have lost 23,000 jobs. It is the exact opposite of what country people were led to expect.

“Mike Baird may be sitting pretty in Sydney but communities like the Hunter, Tweed, New England/North West and the Murray are suffering double digit unemployment rates. We have a Government in Sydney that is completely out of touch.

“Labor is determined to turn around the job losses of the last four years in country NSW. We’ll rescue TAFE to give young people hope for the future – and we’ll lower the racing tax and invest in rail trails to support regional visitor economies.”