THE Baird government is pushing ahead with a plan to sell land at Royal North Shore Hospital despite a senior minister branding a similar Labor proposal “stupid and shortsighted”.

Lane Cove MP Anthony Roberts — now a senior Baird minister — said of a 2011 Labor plan to sell 30 per cent of the RNSH site: “It cannot be allowed to go ahead.”

Now Health Minister Jillian Skinner, who put a temporary ban on RNSH land being sold in 2011, is overseeing the proposed 99-year lease of about 1ha at the southern end of hospital’s St Leonards campus.

Developers will construct several large buildings which NSW Health will lease for staff and other services linked to the hospital.

Doctors, clinicians and residents oppose the lease, which they claim will net the government $97 million but gobble up land vital for expansion of frontline services.

At the time of the Labor proposal, Mr Roberts said: “The Coalition’s position is very clear on this — that land should not be sold whatsoever. It should be held for ­future use, future expansion.”

Labor proposed selling 30 per cent of the site, while the Coalition’s plan involves about 8 per cent as part of a hospital campus masterplan.

A spokesman yesterday confirmed Mr Roberts was now backing the sale because it involved a smaller area of land which would be used for services linked to the hospital.

His backflip has infuriated senior hospital staff.

“He was opposed to the sale of any land when he was in opposition and suddenly he’s come into government and he’s toeing the party line,” RNSH trauma director Dr Tony Joseph said.

The Help Save RNSH group yesterday handed a 12,700 signature petition to Greens MLC John Kaye opposing the sale. The Greens tabled the documents in an effort to have the issue debated next year.

Ms Skinner defended the sale and said the Help Save RNSH campaign group was misinformed. “Under the plan the current clinical and support area on the campus has the potential to increase by 100 per cent to support growth in clinical services.’’

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