Member denied access
JUDY Hopwood was refused access to Coffs Harbour Health Campus because she was asked as the Member for Hornsby, but 'probably' would have been allowed in as the Opposition spokeswoman on mental health, the Health Minister's office said yesterday.
Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser said Ms Hopwood, the NSW Opposition spokeswoman on mental health and community services, had been given permission on Wednesday by the office of the Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (mental health) Cherie Burton, but this had been withdrawn by the Minister for Health, John Hatzistergos, after she arrived in Coffs Harbour.
Mr Fraser said the unit had been trumpeted by the government as an excellent example of a regional mental health facility and the planned visit was purely to inspect the facility.
"What are they hiding?" he said.
The Health Ministry spokeswoman said the local member was welcome to visit the unit at any time because it was in his electorate, but the Member for Hornsby was not.
Questioned what had changed since then-Opposition spokesman for Health Barry O'Farrell was allowed to tour Coffs Harbour's accident and emergency department in 2005 with Mr Fraser, the spokeswoman said permission would have been granted to him as the Opposition spokesman, not as the Member for Kuring-gai.
But Ms Hopwood was welcomed at Woolgoolga, where she and district grand inspector of workings, Graham Dorrington, unveiled a plaque commemorating the Coffs Harbour Freemasons' sponsorship of sea-going radar for the Woolgoolga Sea Rescue boat. She also drew the rescue group's $4000 raffle, won by John Pepper of Sandy Beach.