Minister dodges car park meeting
HEALTH Minister Geoff Wilson has refused to confirm whether or not he is prepared to meet politicians and civic leaders to discuss parking issues at Bundaberg Hospital.
The NewsMail yesterday asked the minister if he was willing to meet with the Bundaberg Regional Council, Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey and Member for Burnett Rob Messenger.
But Mr Wilson would not answer the question.
“As more and more people in the Bundaberg region enjoy the benefits of the government’s massive investment in new services at Bundaberg, we also need to provide more transport and parking options,” he said.
“And that’s what is happening as part of the new services being delivered at the hospital, which includes an extra 30 car parking spaces.”
The minister’s comments come after the NewsMail launched an online petition on Saturday for significantly better parking provision at Bundaberg Hospital.
By yesterday afternoon, almost 250 people had signed the petition.
Mr Wilson said it was part of the State Government’s mission to provide health services sooner and closer to home.
“In Bundaberg that has meant a massive investment to deliver expanded services such as the new emergency department and maternity unit, as well as extra rehabilitation, primary healthcare and specialist services,” he said.
But expansions at the hospital have not dealt with the parking problems, which have been ongoing for years.
Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey said in lieu of a meeting with Mr Wilson, he would be asking the minister some tough questions about the parking calamity when parliament resumed next week.
“We need to have the opportunity for community engagement,” he said.
Member for Burnett Rob Messenger said he was disappointed by Mr Wilson’s failure to commit to a meeting.
Bundaberg planning laws state that a private hospital would need to provide a car park for every three beds, a park for every two staff members and parking for emergency vehicles.
But as a government building, the hospital is not subject to council planning laws.
Councillor Ross Sommerfeld said the best way for the hospital to increase the number of parks was to build “up”.
“But it has to be central and accessible for patients to get to hospital,” he said.
Bundaberg Hospital operational executive Luke Worth said 25 public car parks had been re-opened with the new rehabilitation ward and 30 car parks would be finished with next year’s completion of the Bundaberg Regional Cancer Centre.
“Plans have also been approved to increase the size of three of the designated car parks on Bourbong St and to add an additional mobility designated parking space,” he said.
“We are also planning to help people with and without mobility issues to be transported between our on campus facilities.”
Mr Worth said the hospital was working hard to find a solution to the problem on land previously used by the pony club.