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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

HAS MUSWELLBROOK HOSPITAL UPGRADE FALLEN VICTIMTO UPPER HUNTER'S ECONOMY?

Member for Upper Hunter, Dave Layzell, is questioning whether the Muswellbrook Hospital redevelopment has fallen victim to the region’s strong economy.


The local MP has been briefed by Health Infrastructure which advised that stage three of the project will be scaled back reportedly due to inflationary increases to the construction price.

“Production from the Muswellbrook coalfields ensured the state of NSW was economically supported during the COVID-19 pandemic. The global demand for our local coal has resulted in increased coal prices and record amounts of royalties delivered into the NSW Government coffers. Meanwhile, in return the new Labor State Government has refused to return any of the royalties windfall to the local community to support their hospital redevelopment budget,” Mr Layzell said.
“As many employers in my electorate will still tell you, one consequence of the Upper Hunter’s robust mining sector is that local construction costs have soared, workers are in high demand and the material supply chain is stretched. It is hardly surprising to hear that the original Stage Three-$45million budget promised by the Coalition Government over two years ago has now increased due to inflation. You do not need to be an economist to understand that concept. Accordingly, inflation cannot be used as an excuse by government to cutback or delay critical projects. It is a normal part of doing business in a strong market economy.”

Health Infrastructure has publicly announced that the next stage of the Muswellbrook Hospital Redevelopment has been cutback because of increased construction costs.


Draft designs are now being updated with the main priority being a new inpatient, birthing and maternity department and the relocation of community health facilities. The new theatre and the Central Sterile Supply Department will not proceed under stage 3.


“This will compromise the overall design, it will have clinical implications, and ultimately result in cost inefficiencies of the project,” Mr Layzell said.


“The design review and cutback has left Muswellbrook Hospital requiring a fourth stage of work to complete an operating theatre and relocate the Central Sterilising Services Department, which according to Health Infrastructure is now unfunded.


“I will be asking Minister for Health and Regional Health, Ryan Park, to account for the

$45 million the NSW Nationals in government allocated to Stage Three and to ensure additional royalty funds are provided back to the community to complete the project in full.


“Whilst I understand inflation has impacted the construction industry, I struggle to accept that the billions in increased royalties this region has worked hard to earn cannot cover the additional project costs required to complete the project in full and on time.


“I remind the Premier and the Minister for Health that the region delivered more than half of the state’s billion dollar-a-year coal royalty receipts – in 2021-22 the NSW coal industry paid $3.5 billion – my electorate is the heavy lifter of the economy and deserves its fair share. This is especially the case for public health facilities which is our number one local priority.”


PICTURE CAPTION: Dave Layzell outside the already upgraded section of Muswellbrook Hospital.


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