The NSW government has severely revised the scope of the new Gunnedah hospital. Our community can be assured that council will not let this matter rest. It is not good enough.

I am expecting to meet with the NSW Regional Health Minister next week to seek his intervention to ensure the people of Gunnedah are not short-changed with a hospital that is a fraction of what was promised. This plea was endorsed at the July council meeting.

Despite the community consultation that went with this much-needed project, the results have been ignored and we have been left with more questions than answers.

I will be asking the NSW Regional Health Minister the following questions:

• What would be the total cost of the Gunnedah Hospital Redevelopment Master Plan as it was presented to Council in November 2022?

• How much has been spent to date, and what has been delivered?

• What was the date it was decided that $53 million would not be enough to deliver the Master Plan?

• Who was advised on that date that insufficient funding was available?

We are asking the Minister to commit to funding the shortfall so the Gunnedah community gets the health facility it so badly needs. I will let the Gunnedah shire community know the outcome of this meeting.

On a lighter note, we have again been truly blessed with a visit from our friends from our Sister City of Kolomotu’a in the Kingdom of Tonga, including Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Latufuipeka Tuku’aho, the High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Tonga to the Commonwealth of Australia.

At first glance, there is not a lot in common between Gunnedah Shire and Kolomotu’a. One is an agricultural and mining hub in country NSW, and the other is a region of a South Pacific Island. But at heart, we share a great deal. We both have strong, caring communities and a love of our natural environment and homes. And we both have a desire to see our communities grow and thrive.

While they were here, the delegation visited many businesses, met members of many community organisations, and enjoyed a number of functions, including the Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce Gala Ball. It was an idyllic visit that has brought our two communities even closer.

We are only a year into this partnership, and already we are starting to see the benefits stronger ties will bring. To this end, we will take a delegation to Tonga on October 7 this year for an employment expo to showcase all the opportunities there are in Gunnedah.

The Sister Cities and Friendly Relationships Working Group will meet in the coming weeks to discuss the next steps for this agreement.

We are asking for businesses who are interested in joining the October delegation to contact the Sister Cities and Friendly Relationships Working Group through council on [email protected] 

Groups or individuals who can assist in fundraising for a new library for the Government Middle School of Kolomotu’a, which was badly damaged in the January 2022 tsunami, 
can also send their interest via this email.

This Sister City agreement is one we hold dear, and we thank both our friends from Kolomotu’a and our own community for helping to make this most recent royal visit a special one.

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