House debates

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Constituency Statements

Robertson Electorate: Radiotherapy Service

9:38 am

Photo of Belinda NealBelinda Neal (Robertson, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to inform members of my continuing campaign for a public radiotherapy service on the coast and to correct the record in relation to radio ads presently being run on the Central Coast. Simon Benson, in an article published today on page 3 of the Daily Telegraph, made a number of claims that are entirely false. False claim No. 1: it is entirely false that party officials will investigate allegations regarding radio ads placed on Central Coast radio by me as stated in the article. False claim No. 2: it is entirely false that there is any breach of party rules in running such ads as stated in the article. False claim No. 3: it is entirely false that any complaint has been received by the New South Wales ALP office in relation to the ads as stated in the article. In fact, no complaint has been received by any party office.

This false story was published in the Daily Telegraph, despite Mr Benson being advised by the New South Wales ALP General Secretary that these three allegations were untrue. The general secretary had also informed Mr Benson that these ads had been planned and approved for a very long period of time—in fact, since last year—and that there was no difficulty in his mind with those proceeding on the radio. I call on the Daily Telegraph to correct the record and inform the public of the false nature of the article.

Radio ads are produced to inform constituents of my campaign to achieve a public radiotherapy service on the Central Coast to treat patients in the local area who are suffering from cancer. Presently, cancer sufferers who need radiotherapy must travel to Sydney or Newcastle, which may involve further suffering, pay for private services or give up life-saving treatment altogether. I have raised this matter many times in the parliament and in the community, and I will continue to do so. I have presented to the parliament a petition on this matter signed by some 18,000 residents of the Central Coast. The ads have also set out the benefits delivered to the seat of Robertson by me and the Labor federal government since the last election. I certainly consider it my obligation to inform my constituents of what the government is achieving for them. I will briefly go through some of the benefits. They include $840 million for a freight rail between Sydney and Newcastle and $81 million for the Mardi-Mangrove Creek Dam.

What I clearly want to say in listing these matters is that I have an obligation to inform my constituents. It is clearly set out in parliamentary entitlements that communicating with, and informing, constituents about issues or other matters that have been raised or discussed in the parliament is clearly within my obligations and entitlements. I would go so far as to say that to prevent me is a breach of my entitlements and obligations. (Time expired)