SUNSHINE Coast mayor Mark Jamieson won't be backing away from campaign to win extra doctor training places for new hospital despite claims it won't make a difference.
SUNSHINE Coast mayor Mark Jamieson won't be backing away from campaign to win extra doctor training places for new hospital despite claims it won't make a difference. Picasa

Mayor will stay the course on hospital campaign

SUNSHINE Coast mayor Mark Jamieson has hit back at claims by Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien that he was an 11th hour bandwagon jumper whose campaign for more doctor training places at the University of the Sunshine Coast would not make "one iota of difference”.

Cr Jamieson, who is leading a Local Government Association of Queensland study tour to the US, said the matter should have been resolved during the past three years.

"Yet again, this would appear to be the case of the Coalition Government in Canberra not placing a priority on the Sunshine Coast by allowing this matter to remain unresolved for so long,” he said.

"Council would not be having to encourage the community to express its views and concerns to the Federal Government if that government had acted sooner.

"Council fails to see why its actions in encouraging the community to call on the government to deliver what was promised is something that should be under question.”

Cr Jamieson said the Gold Coast had never experienced a similar problem with its university hospital medical school.

"The decision by then Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fund the new medical school at Curtin University in 2015 was widely reported and recognised at the time as a 'captain's call' for political reasons,” he said.  

"Council isn't necessarily seeking a captain's call - it just wants delivered what this community has expected all along.

"This is not an issue I've become involved in at the 11th hour.

"Since the issue first arose, this matter has been raised with the Federal Health Minister, the former Member for Fisher, the state health ministers in both the Newman and Palaszczuk governments and it was one of the six core commitments I sought from each of the major parties at the commencement of the 2016 Federal election campaign and communicated to both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in writing on 10th May, 2016.

"This hardly constitutes 'coming on board at the 11th hour'.”

Cr Jamieson said there had been no formal response from the Federal Government that would give this region any comfort that the matter will be resolved in its favour. 

"Council recognises that Mr Wallace and Mr O'Brien have only been elected since July 2 last year,” he said.

"However, the issue has been unresolved for three years and the Federal Government has had plenty of time to act.

"The Federal Government needs to hear firsthand from our community just how important this issue is to this region - and also to surrounding regions as well.

"We have already received support from other mayors whose regions will benefit from having a fully functional tertiary teaching hospital in place on the Sunshine Coast.”

Cr Jamieson said as matters stood the earliest that a medical school would be operational if a decision were made today would be 2019 - nearly two years after the hospital opens.

However, he said if a decision on the allocation of places was not made by February it was more likely it would be 2020 before the school opened.

Mr O'Brien said on Tuesday an April deadline had been locked in for a decision.

"Waiting until April for an outcome of the current review will only push back the commencement of the medical school further - and council understands that both federal members are aware of this likelihood,” Cr Jamieson said.

"Council also understands that both Mr O'Brien and Mr Wallace and Minister Sussan Ley are aware that there is an oversupply of medical school places in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania - not Queensland - and that the current review will show this to be the case.

"Perhaps Mr Wallace and Mr O'Brien need to be more concerned with ensuring the communities they represent receive what they should and less concerned about the political impacts for their party in other states.

"At the end of the day, it is unacceptable to council and this community that having a full medical school at our new tertiary teaching hospital could be at risk.

"We are encouraging the Sunshine Coast community to make its feelings known to the Federal Government on this issue.”