Mark Birbeck gathered in protest of the proposed location of a drug rehab facility.
Mark Birbeck gathered in protest of the proposed location of a drug rehab facility. Meg Bolton

Lauga and O'Rourke 'disgusted' and 'appalled'

IN a stunning and unexpected move from local MPs, Barry O'Rourke and Brittany Lauga have publically released a letter to the board of Central Queensland Health to voice their "disgust" and demanding to know how they will "fix the situation they have created".

Rockhampton MP Mr O'Rourke said he was "absolutely appalled" at the way Queensland Health handled the consultation around the proposed ice rehabilitation centre which is planned near residential communities in Parkhurst.

"Not only were residents not consulted, they appear to also have been leaked misleading information from a Queensland Health employee looking to sabotage the planned facility," Mr O'Rourke said.

"That person has broken the law to try and stir fear in the community. They should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

"I completely understand the concerns of local residents at the way this has been handled and will be ensuring their voice is heard as part of this consultation process. This has a long way to go.

"However, what has been lost in the discussion so far is that this is not a prison or a place where criminals are sent.

"It is a place for people who want to get well.

"These could be anyone in our community - how many of us know people who have fallen victim to this insidious drug?

"These aren't inhuman monsters, they are our brothers, sisters, sons, daughter and neighbours. They need our help and they need a local facility where they can get better.

"There needs to be a sincere, informed discussion between the community and Queensland Health on this. We need to get this right for everyone's sake."

 

Letter from Barry O'Rourke and Brittany Lauga to the board of Central Queensland Health
Letter from Barry O'Rourke and Brittany Lauga to the board of Central Queensland Health

On Tuesday, Queensland Health prematurely announced the location to be a 14.54-hectare site made from two vacant lots between Birkbeck Drive and Berry St in Parkhurst.

Residents moved quickly to stop construction by creating a petition to change the location of the facility - it went online at 6pm on Tuesday night and has collected more than 2000 signatures.

Although he was in Rockhampton and residents understood they would have the chance to meet with him, Health Minister Steven Miles did not attend a gathering of hundreds of concerned yesterday morning - Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington labelled his absence as disgusting.

The gathering was streamed live on Channel 7's Sunrise program.

Mrs Lauga sympathised with residents' concerns - she said their reaction was understandable given the way they found out.

"If I found out on social media I'd probably react the same," she said.

But she stressed the Parkhurst location was found to be the most appropriate.

The $14.3million facility will provide residential rehabilitation, withdrawal management, residential rehabilitation for parents and families.

The facility is proposed to take up a two hectare footprint on the 14ha site, leaving 7ha to act as a buffer on the outskirts.

CQHHS has been contacted for a response.