Roads, health priority for candidate

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
Albany Highway, Redmond.
Camera IconAlbany Highway, Redmond. Credit: Laurie Benson

Highways and health are the two priorities for the Nationals candidate for the seat of O’Connor, who has called for changes to regional road funding and how health licences are awarded.

Nine days from the Federal election, Pingelly farmer John Hassell said he would fight for other States to pay their fair share to WA for regional roadworks and bring health specialists if he were elected.

The second-time O’Connor hopeful said he wanted funding to increase passing lanes on Albany Highway and removing dangerous “drop-offs” on the edge of South Coast Highway.

“There’s very few passing lanes between Albany and Mt Barker. I think people take risks,” he said.

“It’s not good. WA is a third of Australia (and has a) huge number of roads.”

In March, the Federal Government pledged $1.6 billion for road and rail infrastructure across WA, including $140 million for the Albany Ring Road and $70 million for the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network.

Mr Hassell said Albany and South Coast Highway were “very high-priority” roads for improvement.

Some sections of Albany Highway average 4800 vehicles a day — with RAC recording 17 fatal crashes from 2013-2017.

There were three fatal crashes in one weekend in the Great Southern last month.

Mr Hassell also took aim at a shortage of health specialists in regional WA, and wanted a licence freeze for metropolitan specialists once quotas were reached.

He said hospital staff shortages in Albany meant some patients needed to travel to Perth for care, costing days and wages.

“There are more than enough doctors in Australia,” he said.

“If you want to practise, go practise in the country. If you’re a country person, you’re half as likely to see a GP, a third as likely to see a specialist, a quarter as likely to see a psychologist and a 12th as likely to see a physiotherapist.

“There should be no extra licences given out to anybody to practise in the city once their level has been reached.”

The Federal Department of Health’s Doctor Connect identified a shortage of GPs and specialists across regional WA.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails