Subjects; The National Party’s destructive plan for Cudgen farmlands, Labor’s National Preschool and Kindy Program
JUSTINE ELLIOT, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR RICHMOND: We are here today with Anthony Albanese, our Federal Shadow Minister and also Craig Elliot, our Labor candidate for Tweed, and also these wonderful community members.
We are here today to highlight the National Party’s unfair plan to impose a hospital here on the Cudgen plateau. The fact is that this is the wrong site for a hospital. We’re also highlighting the fact that if a hospital was built here it would mean massive overdevelopment in this area and the adjoining village of Kingscliff.
A seven storey hospital here means we would see Gold Coast style overdevelopment at Kingscliff. Our community doesn’t want that. Labor has announced that our preferred site for a hospital is in fact Kings Forest. The hospital can be built quicker there and a much bigger hospital can be built there as well.
I’d like to thank all these fantastic community members who have campaigned so hard on this really important issue and I’d really like to thank Anthony for coming here today to join our community campaign to save Cudgen farmland.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Justine and it’s great to be here with yourself and Craig Elliot, our Labor candidate for Tweed in the state election. Before I talk about this I do want to make some comments about the big announcement that Federal Labor has made today about providing preschool for all three and four year olds. We know that early childhood is absolutely critical in a child’s development into a young boy or girl and then into adulthood.
Those early years can make such a difference to the career prospects and the opportunity that young people will have to make the most of their lives. This announcement builds on what we did in Government of providing preschool education for four year olds. What we’re seeing internationally, if we’re going to compete on the basis of how smart a country we are, we need to compete on the basis of giving every young person the best opportunity in life. That’s precisely what this announcement today will do – some $1.7 billion. One hundred million dollars of which is for adjustments for the state and territories to transition to this when it comes into place by 2021.
This is an exciting announcement. It builds on our commitment to education, be it early childhood, school education through fair funding, university and, of course, TAFE that’s so critical.
For this meeting today here we are on the Cudgen plateau. I’m pleased to be here with the Federal Member, the state candidate and, importantly, with local community members showing our concern. I’m here today as the Acting Shadow Environment Minister but also as the Infrastructure Shadow Minister concerned about planning. This is an example of planning gone wrong. Here we have prime agricultural land that is so important for our national economy and also for local jobs. And yet they want to convert this into a hospital site.
The only way that makes sense is to look at what the knock-on effects are; the knock-on effects for development. Here we have a pristine wetland area. The Kingscliff community is so important. The fact that it has kept that three storey limit on development. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is aimed at opening up overdevelopment and changing the very character of Kingscliff.
Good planning is consistent with the community and is consistent with the character of that local community. Kingscliff is a very special place. I’ve had the opportunity to come here on many occasions, both for work but also for a holiday. The tourism sector here is very important as well. And as Shadow Tourism Minister what I see is that this area provides a unique tourism experience. We don’t want it to compete with the Gold Coast. What you want is different tourism experiences up and down the coast. The Gold Coast provides that high rise experience that people want with the density of restaurants and activity. What people want here is very special and it’s important that it be kept, both for local residents and for visitors to the area.
So for reasons of the environment, for reasons of planning, for reasons of tourism, this is the wrong site. They should listen to the community and make sure that they listen to the experts about the site of this new hospital.
CRAIG ELLIOT, NSW LABOR CANDIDATE FOR TWEED: My name is Craig Elliot. I’m the Labor candidate for the state seat of Tweed. The next state election on March 23 will be a referendum on where Tweed residents decide and determine where the next public hospital shall be built in Tweed. It’s a clear decision. The National Party want to concrete and bitumen high rise over prime agricultural land that we see here today. Labor has a better, more rational, more reasonable response to that. We will build a better, faster, on-budget hospital at Kings Forest. So as I say, it’s a referendum: where do the people of Tweed want a hospital?
From my perspective, overwhelmingly, the people of Kingscliff have rejected the National Party and, overwhelmingly, support Labor’s position of building a hospital at Kings Forest and in doing so protect the farm lands of Cudgen.
HAYLEY PADDON, COMMUNITY MEMBER: I’d just like to thank the Labor Party for coming here again today and express how much this community does not want this hospital to be built on state significant farmland. Our campaign is based on saving state significant farmland for future generations to come and for food security. The sweet potato market, we have 20 per cent of Australia’s market in this area of Cudgen and for such a small area that’s a huge quantity of produce that we send out to markets all over Australia.
Our campaign has been very strong. The commitment from the community to stand behind us and save this red soil for future generations has grown to 5,000 people on a Facebook site, over 7,500 signatures in 13 weeks. We will keep pushing. We say no. The community says no – not here. There were 37 other sites. Choose again, pick another site.
JOURNALIST: Why have you come here in particular? I’m sure that there’s a lot of infrastructure projects across NSW that people have got problems with. Why is this one special?
ALBANESE: It is special because at this time when we’re talking about the need to support our farmers, here we have farmers who are doing a great job, providing food for people’s tables, providing jobs for the local community, providing for the national economy and this prime agricultural land is under threat when there are other options.
It is an example of bad planning and the National Party are known for bad planning. They are known for looking after their mates, rather than looking after the community. This is a great example of that, common sense should prevail. I’m here also because up and down the coast I’ve been very concerned as the Tourism Shadow Minister with what’s happening in many of our pristine areas – areas where working families can go for a holiday.
You have on the coast here; we had a function last night, a gathering of locals at Kingscliff Surf Club. There you have the two parks where people can go for relatively low cost with their families for their annual holidays, for school holidays. That’s so important that that be protected. And this is a very special place. It’s important that we keep what makes Australia special just that.