Newcastle rallies for health care


By Jane Beckman

NEWCASTLE — An estimated 4000 people marched through the city on July 30 to an open air rally in Civic Park in support of Hunter health services.

Hospital workers, public servants and the waterfront unions stopped work to attend the rally.

Chanting "Health for the Hunter", "Give Nick the flick" and "Save our hospitals", the crowd sent a clear message to the state government that the people of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley will campaign to maintain and enhance the health services they have battled for years to establish.

The rally was addressed by the mayors of Newcastle and Cessnock, leaders of the unions involved, doctors from the hospitals and the opposition's health spokesperson.

At the end of the rally, those attending unanimously adopted a resolution put by the Trades Hall Council expressing outrage at continuing confusion in the Hunter's health system and unnecessary public anxiety about the system's capacity to meet the needs of patients.

The resolution also asked the state government to acknowledge the historical underfunding of the Hunter's public health system.

In a related campaign in recent weeks the Public Sector Union has organised meetings of 500 workers in Lithgow, and 400 RTA workers in Wollongong. It is planning further rallies in country areas. The NSW Labor Council on August 1 endorsed a plan for mass rallies in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong to be held on August 21.

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