Politics in the Pub proves to be vital consultation

THE community turned out in droves to the Astor Hotel on Monday night to have their say on local health services. 

Maybe the room was packed because this forum became the consultation that had never happened. 

The Goulburn Post must give some credit to MP Pru Goward for fronting such a potentially hostile crowd. It was a gutsy effort, but not before time. 

Granted, she is elected by us to look us in the eye and explain things – especially big issues like these decisions – but emotions were running high in the room at times.

From her responses to the many questions posed to herit does seem genuine that both she and Health Minister Jillian Skinner may have been caught off guard about the decision to close the Bourke Street Health Service when this move was announced by press release  as strange as that may seem. 

Her anger at health bureaucrats over this was palpable and she imparted the imputation that a few heads might roll as a result. We tell you Pru – the community will cheer you if that is the case.

More importantly – we will cheer you if you manage to keep the Bourke Street Health Service open – at least until there is adequate room to move these services up to the Goulburn Base –if this privatisation has to go ahead at all?

Ms Goward said: “It was a misjudged decision and it is not a done deal until I stop singing.” 

Well start singing loudly, Pru. 

Many in the crowd and on the panel expressed the view that they did not favour the privatisation of Goulburn Base, fearing a decline in services will be the result. Many cited examples of Royal North Shore and Port Macquarie Hospital as good reasons to question it. 

HSU organiser Peter Mason said private companies are there to make profits for shareholders and services will be downgraded to this community as a result, if it goes ahead. We share his concerns about this conflict of interest between making profits and ensuring patient care.  

When asked by The Goullburn Post why there were not more councillors present, Politics in the Pub organisers Jason Shepherd said an open invitation was not extended to them. 

“We invited Leah, but not the other councillors,” he said. “The net could have been cast wider, but to get more than five speakers is a lot to handle.”

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