THE resolution to the war of words over an MRI licence for Bathurst Hospital ends a most bizarre period of politics in the region.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
Tuesday night's federal budget provided the conclusion to the sorry saga when $66 million was announced to increase access to regional MRI machines through extending Medicare rebates.
It means that Bathurst people who aren't patients of the hospital will still be able to get a Medicare rebate if they need to have an MRI scan there - and it means our state member Paul Toole and federal member Andrew Gee (both Nationals) can call a ceasefire.
No-one is naive enough to believe that everyone gets on in politics, even when they're on the same side, but it was surprising just how willing it appeared to get between Mr Toole and Mr Gee on this issue in recent times.
To see Mr Toole staring down the barrel of a television camera outside the hospital at a press conference and making it clear it was Mr Gee who needed to do something about the lack of a licence or to read a newsletter advertisement from Mr Gee in which he said it was actually the state at fault was to wonder why the two of them didn't simply get together to sort the matter out.
The other notable aspect of the debate between them was that both sides seemed adamant that they were entirely in the right and it was the other person who was sadly mistaken.
With this week's federal budget announcement, Mr Gee said Bathurst Hospital had always had his "absolute support on this, and I'm delighted we've been able to get this done for our region".
Mr Toole, meanwhile, said his two years of lobbying the federal Health Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister had paid off and he was pleased his fight had been won.
If everyone has got what they've been fighting for, it's difficult to work out why there was any argument in the first place.
But then again, politics always has more than a touch of the theatrical.
What at times has looked like disharmony and personal animosity between Mr Toole and Mr Gee might instead turn out to be nothing more than a masterstroke for both.
Neither side lost. Both won. Neither side backed down in the face of misplaced, mistaken criticism from the other and both showed tenacity and great determination.
Now imagine what could be achieved if they joined forces.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.