I rise today with a message to the federal, Victorian and New South Wales Governments. 

On all available evidence, these three Governments are planning on spending more than half a billion dollars on a hospital, sorry a “clinical services building,” which they already know will not meet the health needs of our community. 

I am speaking of course, of the planned $558 million redevelopment of the Albury hospital campus, announced by the Victorian and New South Wales premiers ahead of the Victorian 2022 election. 

The need for a new hospital for Albury Wodonga, serving a catchment of 300,000 people, has long been documented. The current situation, with two hospitals on either side of the border, where services are duplicated and separated, is inefficient, inadequate, and unsafe. 

When the current funding was announced, I welcomed it. The two premiers said they would fulfil our community’s need for a new single-site hospital and I took them at their word. But since then it has become increasingly clear that this funding will not deliver that. 

In fact, a letter from Albury Wodonga Health’s chief executive Bill Appleby and Chair Jonathan Green to the Victorian and New South Wales Health Ministers on December 19 last year said explicitly: 

 “this investment will not deliver the Government’s policy intent of a single-site hospital.” 

Of course, the New South Wales and Victorian Governments will not admit this. We only know about this letter because of the excellent work of Dr Amanda Cohn in the New South Wales Parliament. 

Instead the New South Wales and Victorian Governments are stonewalling, dismissing the evidence from our health leaders, clinicians and patients.  

Here I must acknowledge Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney, who has come to the border and listened to our communities, for which I am most grateful. 

Why is it that our health service, the biggest, busiest health service between Melbourne and Sydney, must look at other hospitals, smaller hospitals with smaller catchments and see that they got more funding? 

In 2018 the Tweed Valley Hospital in NSW was allocated $723 million from the NSW Government to build a new hospital, for a catchment size similar to ours on the border. 

Shellharbour Hospital gets $700 million as well.  

Victorian Government has committed up to $675 million to build a new greenfield hospital in West Gippsland to service 60,000 people. Why would the state governments only allocate $225 million each to our region?  

We need the federal, NSW and Victorian Governments to all come together and commit to addressing our needs, now and into the future and funding it properly so we get the single-site world-class hospital we need and ultimately deserve. 

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