The State Liberals will today table a petition with more than 85,000 signatures in the South Australian Parliament calling on the Weatherill Government to reverse its decision to close the Repat.
The people of South Australia have spoken loud and clear with the petition calling on the Weatherill Government not to close the Repatriation General Hospital and recognise this hospital as the spiritual home and vital lifeline for the Veterans’ of South Australia and the South Australian community.
"This enormous expression of public support for saving the Daw Park Repatriation General Hospital contains a stark warning for the Weatherill Government," said Shadow Minister for Health Stephen Wade.
"The petition has been spearheaded by the Vets on the Steps, now in their 157th day.
"The sheer size of this petition shouts out to Labor Members: ‘If you want to save your seat at the next state election, then Save the Repat now.’
"Community resistance to the Weatherill Government’s cynical decision to close the Repat has grown from the moment the Minister for Health Jack Snelling announced the Government was breaking its promise to never, ever close the Repat.
"When asked in Parliament in February whether 13,000 signatures would sway his opinion the Health Minister sniggered: If the Leader of the Opposition can provide 13,000 signatures of course that would carry some weight (J.J. Snelling; Hansard 12 February 2015)
"Seven months later, over 85,000 people have signed the paper petition as a way of voicing their opposition to the closure of the Repat.
"More than another 30,000 people have signed online petitions or added their names and addresses to non-Parliamentary paper petitions.
"That bring the grand total of people who’ve signed up to this campaign to more than 119,000 so far.
"It’s time the Minister and the Government started listening to them.
"South Australians do not buy the line that reducing health services and expenditure will produce better health outcomes for either our veterans or the general community.
"People are well aware that the real reason the Weatherill Government is closing the Repat is to save money."
Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis highlighted the rationale for closing the Repat in the lead up to last year’s State Budget:
South Australians can expect big cuts and increased taxes in a State Budget predicted to be brutal. Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis has even refused to rule out measures as extreme as closing hospitals (Advertiser 30 May 2014)
"South Australians do not accept that they should pay for the Weatherill Government’s budget failure by reducing the level of care available in our hospitals."