Save our park from the super clinic
AN UNLIKELY controversy has hit the GP super clinics program, with residents of the NSW coastal town of Nowra complaining that the $7 million facility is to be built on Australia’s first park.
Nowra Park, which Shoalhaven Historical Society says is the nation’s “first gazetted public recreation area”, has been the focus of resident concern since a hospital was built there almost two decades ago and was more recently named as the location of a new cancer clinic.
But after local MPs confirmed the much-needed super clinic would be built on the park too, residents have vowed to fight it, saying the park should be protected under laws that protect tidal river banks – which are on the land – and as a site of Indigenous importance.
“It’s as though the government has the total right to occupy that site despite the fact it is... extremely significant for a number of reasons, not least of which is its connection with the Aboriginal population for probably many thousands of years,” society president Lynne Allen told MO.
“It seems terribly shortsighted to build the cancer clinic there and now [the super clinic].”
Park neighbour Bill Hancock said he would also formally object to the yet-to-be-built cancer clinic and super clinic.
He said the federal government appeared to be “overriding” the local and state environmental plans, which should protect the land.
“There’s no long term plan at all,” Mr Hancock said.
“They can’t just say ‘there’s a vacant park there, we’ll take that’.”
Local federal MP Joanna Gash, who supported the project although her Coalition party opposes super clinics, said she agreed the park was valuable but it was convenient as it was next to the hospital and moving it was unlikely “in the economic climate”.
“Where it is, is not a good spot,” Ms Gash conceded.
“There’s no parking, it’s taking away good space that could be used for other things as well, but nevertheless [the hospital] is there.”