Orange MP Phil Donato savaged the Nationals after they voted to defeat legislation requiring registered nurses (RN) in nursing homes 24 hours a day.
“It’s so typical of the National Party who think they represent regional people but are too gutless when it comes to the crunch,” Mr Donato said.
“I’m very disappointed.”
RNs were previously required in all aged care facilities in NSW until 2014 when the requirement was removed by federal legislation.
The bill was defeated 45 to 35, including votes from Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Paul Toole and Troy Grant.
It was despite considerable support in the public gallery from the Country Women’s Association and the Nurses and Midwives Association, who were calling for the bill to become law.
Mr Donato said the government was looking after its “corporate mates” ahead of people in aged care facilities.
“I would have thought people’s lives were far more important than the few extra dollars,” he said.
“This is not an unreasonable request to have an RN available 24/7, most have one during the day.”
Mr Donato said it appeared the government was in “disarray” over the bill, which last week was supported unanimously in the state’s upper house.
“In the space of a week, upon entering the Legislative Assembly, we have seen this level of resistance from the government,” he said.
“It was mostly around this scaremongering that small facilities around the state would not survive if legislation passed.”
Mr Donato said Premier Gladys Berejiklian was absent from the chamber during the vote.
“As premier you would expect her to be there to cast her vote and put it on the line and show people what you’re thinking,” Mr Donato said.
He rejected suggestions from the state’s health minister Brad Hazzard who said the bill was a “stitch up and caught the government unaware”.
Following the defeat, Mr Donato said he along with the bill’s supporters and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party would return to the drawing board to devise another attempt, or secure a government agreement.