According to the Clarence Valley Review today, divisions are emerging over John Howard's conditional offer of $18 million to upgrade Grafton Hospital.
This is how I see the division breaking down:
* The Rural Doctors Association welcomed the offer, but are unhappy with health funding being politicised in this way.
* The NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association thinks that the State should not accept the offer. Presumably because it was dependant on reinstituting the local hospital board system.
* The NSW Health Minister said the State Government would not be forced into "committing to a structure which would see money wasted on a third tier of administration and bureaucracy."
* Nationals candidate for the seat of Page, Chris Gulaptis, is all for establishing a local hospital board. But what else would one expect but the party line.
* Nationals-leaning local government councillor and chair of the hospital's community committee, Shirley Adams, is all for the offer and a local board. Probably because she has high hopes of being board president.
* Grafton Hospital medical council chair, Dr. Alan Tyson, thinks that the offer should be accepted because that's what the community would expect. This view of course does not depend on his having canvassed Clarence Valley community opinion in any meaningful way.
* Labor candidate for the seat of Page, Janelle Saffin, points out that this one-off offer and the creation of a local hospital board would not bring in "another doctor, another nurse, another dollar, wouldn't treat another patient."
It's time ordinary people in the Clarence Valley had their say.