Cancer centre closer

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on March 14, 2019

STATE Government funding intended for a wave energy project in Albany has been reallocated to help pay for a radiotherapy oncology unit at Albany Health Campus.

State Health Minister Roger Cook visited Albany on Tuesday to make the $13.1 million announcement which he said he was “very pleased” to make.

“This is a great win for Albany,” he said.

“We can now move forward to develop this quickly as soon as the feasibility study is complete, which we expect to be finished by May.”

A campaign to obtain a radiotherapy machine for Albany began more than two years ago with Denmark resident Mary Williams at the helm (‘Cancer machine resolve’, October 19, 2017).

The Albany Radiation Machine Project attracted the support of Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson last year who, in September, wrangled $6.6 million in Federal funding to support the cause (‘Cancer funding coup’, September 13).

Mr Wilson said Albany could see a facility as soon as June 2019.

One month later, Mr Cook said “more consideration” needed to be given to the project before he could make any promises of State support, (‘Feds push State to back cancer care’, October 4).

He later announced a feasibility study would be conducted and estimated it would be completed by May.

Last month, Ms Williams presented Premier Mark McGowan with a petition when he was in Albany containing more than 2000 signatures to show the community’s support of the project, (‘Bunker feasibility study on track’, February 14).

Ms Williams was then asked to meet with Mr Cook.

“He reassured me he’d spoken to Hunt [Federal Health Minister] about an extension on the $6.6 million,” she told The Weekender in February.

“Over my dead body will they take that money away.”

Ms Williams was grinning from ear-to-ear as she stood beside Mr Cook and Member for Albany Peter Watson during the $13.1 million announcement on Tuesday.

“I am absolutely overwhelmed and elated,” she said.

“My heart is truly singing and I cannot wait to get to the people in the pockets of the Great Southern and give them this most incredible news.”

Mr Cook thanked Ms Williams for her efforts as well as Mr Watson for his “continuous lobbying”.

“Nothing will stop us in terms of our determination to see radiotherapy oncology services delivered here in Albany,” he said.

“It’s a fairly complex project but we know we can overcome the obstacles to get this unit developed.

“We know some funds have been secured by the Commonwealth at this stage, so obviously that has a bearing on it, but we simply need to know the full dimensions of this project.”

Mr Wilson told The Weekender he was thankful the State had “come to the party” and commended Ms Williams on her efforts.

“My next campaign will be to have it called the Mary Williams Oncology Unit, as a great testament to her hard work,” he said.