• Friday 27 January 2017

 Today (Jan 27), Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace and Federal Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien have made a range of claims about the allocation of medical school places for the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and the campaign that has been implemented by Council.

Their comments are nothing more than a smokescreen to divert attention from the fact that the Government they represent has had over three years to resolve this matter – and hasn’t.

In that time, I and others in this region have been assured by Federal politicians that this would be fixed. Well the reality is that as at today, it hasn’t been fixed.

Our region has already lost ground – if the medical school places had been allocated even two years ago, we could have potentially had the medical school opening this year. 

As it stands, it will be at least 2019 before the medical school opens – and then only if the required additional 15 medical school places are allocated.  And there is no guarantee this will occur.

The Federal Members claim that I have only initiated this campaign for political reasons.  As an independent Mayor with no political affiliations, I have made it very clear to them and to our community that at the end of the day, I do not care who secures the additional 15 places for our medical school.  All I want is for this region – the region that I have been elected to represent – to receive what it was promised.  That is what an independent Mayor does.

It is worth noting that under section 12 of the Local Government Act 2009, a councillor must represent the current and future interests of the residents of the local government area. That is what I am doing.  Perhaps the Federal Members should be checking their facts before they make ill-informed and inaccurate claims.

Further, the 15 February 2017 date for the allocation of medical school places to enable a medical school to open at the start of the 2019 academic year was confirmed by the State Health Minister.  I am also advised that the date was nominated by Griffith University and is underpinned by the necessary accreditation process required by the Australian Medical Council (AMC) and the internal governance processes that the University will need to follow before the AMC accreditation process commences.  I am also informed that Ted O’Brien was made aware of this in November last year.

I also assure the residents of the Sunshine Coast that the development of a campaign on this matter was requested by Councillors at a meeting on 30 November 2016 out of concern for the fact that the allocation of the medical school places had still not been resolved.  The plan for the campaign was distributed to Councillors on 8 December 2016 and no objections to it proceeding were raised.  All expenditure associated with the campaign has been undertaken lawfully, within budget and under appropriate delegations.

Finally, I would make the point again that Council would not be having to spend the money on this campaign if the Federal Government had done the job it has been elected to do and resolved this matter some time ago.