April 28, 2022

Haines slams party politicking over new hospital for Albury Wodonga

Helen Haines has slammed the buck-shifting and delays between the Liberal and Labor parties on a new world class hospital on the border, calling on all sides to put aside political point-scoring and commit to addressing the desperate need for a new hospital.

In the past week the border region has been visited by the Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy, who said he would need to come back to announce what his party would promise for the region, and federal Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill even questioned the need for a new hospital on her visit to Albury.

“We know how serious the health crisis is on the border. We are living it every day. How insulting for these people to waltz in, listen to the desperation of our health professionals, and walk away without making a commitment to our region,” Haines said.

“Every day I’m out talking to residents of Wodonga and our region, and health is the number one issue they raise. The last thing we need is for politicians to play games with our health care at election time.”

It is now 12 months since the release of the Clinical Services Plan that informed the masterplan for Albury Wodonga Health and Haines said passing the blame between State and Federal levels of government did nothing for the long-suffering residents of Albury Wodonga whose health needs grew more acute every day.

Haines noted the Labor Candidate for Indi’s claims that the masterplan was unfinished, would not be released before the federal election, and required yet another round of consultation.

“The masterplan has been sitting on the Minister for Health’s desk for months. I know, because I’ve worked with the board and medical staff of Albury Wodonga Health for over two years to push it along.

“The time for consultation is over. The community, clinicians and Albury Wodonga Health have done the work. Now is the time for the Victorian Government to front up and show it is serious about our health.

“People would be right to ask if this was a delaying tactic calculated to wait for a more convenient time in the Andrews’ Government political cycle.

“If the Andrews Government is sitting on the masterplan until closer to the State election this would be outrageous. Our health can’t wait.

Haines said the Member for Farrer’s lodgement of a Freedom of Information request to the Victorian Government belied her power as a Minister of Cabinet to advocate for this critical project.

“Lodging a Freedom of Information request is the least effective weapon in a Minister’s arsenal.

“Where is the leadership from the Member for Farrer and other Liberals who claim to have a seat at the table and could lead by example by committing much needed funding?

“All levels of Government need to show some leadership, not just blame each other. The Federal Government needs to show leadership and stump up $300 million to cover their share of the $1 billion needed to fund a hospital.

“We saw the same politicking and delays with the Albury Wodonga City Deal, which was a huge disappointment and a missed opportunity for our region.

“Unlike the major parties, I haven’t just flown in and given lip service to our health needs on the eve of an election. I’ve stood up and fought for us when no one else would.

“I’ve stood time and again with the front-line nurses, doctors, pharmacists, midwives, physiotherapists, and other medical professionals on the border pushing the federal government to take some leadership.

“Irrespective of election cycles and party games, I’ll always stand up and fight for the quality health care that our communities on the border deserve.”

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