OPINION

Matters of State: Inability to Recruit?

Phil Donato, Cr Phyllis Miller OAM and Shelley Hancock MP, Minister for Local Government.

Phil Donato, Cr Phyllis Miller OAM and Shelley Hancock MP, Minister for Local Government.

Recently, the CEO of Western NSW Local Health District [LHD] claimed that in spite of their best efforts to recruit obstetricians and anaesthetists needed to continue maternity services at the Parkes Hospital, they were unsuccessful.

However, had the LHD been fully committed to ensuring the maternity service at Parkes continued as per normal, planning to locate doctors would have been initiated quite some time ago, and the details of what steps were taken to recruit doctors - information which I have been politely asking for - would be far more forthcoming.

Due to the fact I've received no sufficient response regarding the steps undertaken by the LHD to recruit suitably qualified doctors and avoid this unfavourable outcome that Parkes and surrounding areas are now facing, I have now asked the Minister for Health and Medical Research, to provide this information.

I have asked the Minister: How were these positions advertised? Where were these positions advertised? When were these positions advertised? How long were these positions advertised? Were applications received or inquiries made regarding these advertised positions?

The answer is due from Mr Hazzard on 5 September 2019. My questions are very simple, so the answer should not be difficult if the Minister has any level of respect for our regional constituents.

In addition to this, my colleague, the Hon Mark Banasiak, earlier this week submitted a Notice of Motion to the Legislative Council under Standing Order 52, calling for documentation relating to this matter.

If this Notice of Motion is passed, the Government will have 21 days to comply.

Reproductive Reform

The introduction of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 has provoked lengthy and emotional debate in the NSW Parliament regarding abortion.

After much discussion and consideration, earlier this week I delivered my contribution to this debate.

The primary object of the bill seeks, among other things, to remove abortion from the New South Wales Crimes Act, as it has been in the other states and territories of Australia.

Considering my own life experiences, I am certainly not pro-abortion.

As the father of five children, all of whom attended Catholic schools, and having grown up in an Italian Catholic denomination family, I appreciate and understand the concerns of those who are opposed to abortion.

However, I also share a view about and a deep respect for women being able to have control over their bodies and their reproductive rights.

I am also of the view that no-one is infallible and there may be times in a person's life when, for whatever reasons, a woman or a couple may choose to have an abortion.

They should not be judged-certainly not by me or anyone else-about choosing to make a decision that impacts upon their lives at a very difficult time.

Doctors should also not have the fear or risk of prosecution hanging over their heads.

That is not to say I do not have some concerns in relation to aspects of the legislation, and I understand amendments will be moved to it.

I will consider supporting any sensible amendment which addresses the concerns I have around certain aspects of this bill.

I thank everybody who contacted my office to have their say. Hundreds of people emailed, messaged, phoned, contacted me via social media, attended my office or presented petitions expressing their views on the matter.

I respect everybody's opinion.

This is a difficult issue, and I have considered it very carefully.

Worthy Recognition

Earlier this week in the Parliament of NSW I recognised the seven nominees of the 2019 Minster's Awards for Women in Local Government.

Each of these outstanding women have sacrificed their time and effort to benefit communities across the Orange electorate.

Congratulations to councillors Jennifer Weaver, Marlene Nash, Phyllis Miller OAM, Jennifer Webb, Joanne McRae, Barbara Newton and Patricia Smith.