A Dubbo regional councillor has accused the NSW government of playing with people's lives over a delayed rehab centre which has not been allotted a location yet.
Another month has passed without any visible progress in establishing Dubbo's alcohol and other drugs residential rehabilitation centre, first announced in November 2020.
The lack of headway in finalising a site for the rehab facility has left councillor Josh Black fed up with the wait.
"I'm a bit tired of hearing announcements of.. 'oh yes this is coming, that's coming'. It's been coming for about two and half years now," Cr Black said.
"We keep hearing that they're close to announcing a site... if that is true. Hopefully it's true.
"I don't know where the site is... it's taking way too long."
Given there is an election coming up, Cr Black said politics could be playing a role in delaying the life-saving facility.
"They really just need to get on and do it and stop stringing the community along, probably for an election announcement in the coming months. It's costing lives," Cr Black said.
Member for Dubbo and Nationals MP Dugald Saunders did not appreciate the accusation. He told Daily Liberal work was happening behind the scenes and it was Cr Black who was bringing politics into the mix.
"He's trying to make this political. He's a Labor councillor so my question to him would be why is he trying to make it political?," Mr Saunders said.
Mr Saunders said he had done a lot of work with the regional health minister Bronnie Taylor and the local health district to make sure they had the most appropriate block of land to house the rehab centre.
He said he hoped there would be an update "in the next month or so".
"I can assure you there's a lot of work that's been going on and has been for quite sometime. There were interruptions due to Covid and a whole range of things, but in the meantime it's about finding the best possible location for this facility," Mr Saunders said.
The Dubbo MP said the location would need input from Aboriginal leaders along with community feedback which would all take place "behind closed doors" and that a councillor like Josh Black didn't need to know all of the intricate details of that at this point of time.
"For him to start saying it's a political thing that we're not announcing it is actually a massively political statement," Mr Saunders said.
"I'd tell him to get his own head out of his own backside and worry about council issues, this is a state government issue, that is absolutely being driven and as soon as we can announce something, we will."
The Western NSW Local Health District (WNSW LHD), which is responsible for finding a site for the rehab centre, in a statement on Monday said site discussions will not be disclosed to maintain the integrity of potential negotiations.
Additionally, Cr Black compared the rehab centre setback to a similar delay in the proposed drug court which would give offenders a chance to turn around their lives and avoid jail.
The Dubbo drug court, initially planned for a June 2022 opening, has been announced to open in February 2023.
"It's same with the rehab centre, it's dragged on and on and on and on. It's time for action. I just hope it's not a politically timed announcement, the community deserves better than that," Cr Black said.
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