Andrew Stoner with Andrew Fraser.
Andrew Stoner with Andrew Fraser.

Nationals face the big issues

A PETITION with more than 3000 signatures demanding Bellingen Hospital be saved from closure was handed to a delegation of visiting National Party politicians yesterday.

Pia Dollman and Fiona Crosskill want all the services at the hospital to be continued.

And local MPs Andrew Fraser and Andrew Stoner agreed.

“Andrew Stoner promised that if he were in Government the hospital would remain open,” Ms Dollman said.

Both women managed to get the ear of the politicians for about ten minutes as the Country National Party’s regional tour rolled into Coffs Harbour.

As well as addressing local health issues, Federal member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker joined the nine regional MPs, from Newcastle to Tweed, to discuss a number of key issues.

“As we travel from community to community we are being told by locals that there is a Government in NSW that doesn’t give a toss,” NSW Leader of the Nationals Mr Stoner said.

As part of their stopover in Coffs, a selection of students from local high schools joined them for an education forum designed to include youth in the political arena. Mr Stoner said the forum was a chance for young people to not only have their views heard but to seek explanations on issues of the day.

At the education forum with 13 local high school students, Mr Fraser discussed an accident with the students that affected his family when his daughter’s friend died in an accident on the Pacific Highway.

That death is just one that the Nationals have been campaigning for 20 years to prevent with a highway upgrade.

“We’ve made a commitment that we are going to finish the job,” Mr Stoner said.

“We’re going to accelerate the planning and construction processes.”

Mr Stoner also explained that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised the split dual carriageway will be complete by 2016 but with an unfunded black hole of $6 billion the Nationals are concerned this will not happen.

A Toormina High School student also raised the issue of community safety following recent news of Sawtell Police Station’s temporary closure.

“We need to ensure we employ the police needed,” Mr Fraser said, adding that the public will wear the brunt of resources being over stretched in the upcoming Easter period.

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