Yesterday the Andrews Labor government yet again showed its contempt for north-western Victorians with a ‘dog ate my homework’ line about ‘secret’ plans to build a new Mildura Hospital.
State Health Minister Mary-Ann Thomas couldn’t help herself, playing politics and trying to blame the former federal Coalition government for the woes at the hospital. Not only has the Andrews Government been in office for over eight years, one of the incoming Albanese Labor Government’s first acts was to drain the regions of doctors, changing the Distribution Priority Areas for international medical graduates.
The immediate 56 per cent increase in doctors leaving the regions has been acknowledged by the Rural Doctors Association of Australia and many others, yet Minister Thomas says the Hospital’s wait times are the fault of a Coalition that is in opposition at state and federal level.
Federal and State Labor have no plan for the regional health crisis, the lack of doctors and nurses, let alone the imminent tsunami of retiring hard-working medicos ready to hang up the stethoscopes.
As Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Health, I’m well across the facts. Labor’s push for Priority Primary Care Clinics has taken doctors out of full-time GP practice as an artificial non-solution to place them in the PPC clinics. This is no solution but rather short term political grand standing.
We know a higher proportion of medical students – 60 per cent – remain in their local area to practice as doctors if they are trained locally, and the Coalition put Sunraysia on the map in medical training with the Murray-Darling Medical School program.
I am working with providers constantly to not only expand this opportunity in the region, but I will be meeting with other specialist medical peak bodies in Canberra about training specialists in our local area as well.
Bizarrely Minister Thomas talked up the state contribution to the Swan Hill Hospital but it was the Federal Coalition that invested $30 mill in 2019, pushing the state government to match it., even though funding hospitals is a state responsibility. Minister Thomas needs to commit to a new Mildura’s hospital and a rebuild of the Swan Hill hospital to bring it up to modern standards.
Meanwhile I’m working with the Mildura Base Public Hospital to expand services right now – without the resources of a federal or state Coalition government ally – because that’s the appropriate approach. Solutions, not political point-scoring.
The Andrews Labor Government needs regular reminders that almost 1.3 million Victorians live outside of Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. Sunraysia voters know when they are being strung along with talk of ‘secret plans’ and pathetic political deflection, and as your Federal representative I will hit back every time.