Health Hospitals Budget Parliament

Labor delivers paltry 1.7% of funding for country hospitals

Melbourne Labor's budget has delivered just 1.7 per cent of capital funding for hospitals to rural and regional Victoria, Parliament's Public Accounts and Estimates Committee heard this week.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South and committee member Danny O'Brien said the revelation confirmed that Labor had delivered almost nothing in this budget for country health.

"The budget papers show a capital spend in the health portfolio of $560 million, but there is only one project - $10 million for a cardiovascular lab at Ballarat Base Hospital - in rural and regional Victoria,” Mr O’Brien said.

"That's just 1.7 per cent of the total spend over the next four years which is a paltry amount for more than a quarter of the state's population.

"When I asked the Minister for Health about this figure her only explanation was that the government's first budget was about delivering on election commitments. While this is laudable, it only serves to highlight that Labor made no commitments for country hospitals.

"The best the Minister could offer was that there might be funding for country hospitals in future budgets.  I would hope so because the government's approach to rural hospitals surely could not get any worse."

Mr O'Brien said the figure was in stark contrast to the investment in country hospitals by The Nationals in government.

"The budget papers highlight existing capital projects - that is, those commenced by the former Coalition Government - include Latrobe Regional Hospital, Ballarat, Bendigo, Echuca, Swan Hill, Charlton, Port Fairy and Numurkah."

Mr O'Brien said questioning earlier in the week also highlighted limited capital spending for rural schools.

"This budget was a big test of Labor's commitment to rural and regional Victoria and by any measure it has failed to deliver.  I hope this is not a portent of things to come for the next four years," he said.

Mr O'Brien said estimates hearings today also revealed the fraud of Labor's position on vocational education and training (VET).

"Despite spending the last four years in opposition falsely claiming the sector had been cut by the Coalition, the Minister today revealed that there is not a single extra dollar for training in this budget. Indeed he twice confirmed that $1.2 billion was available for training subsidies, the exact same figure - by the Minister's words - as under the Coalition.

"The Minister is also not planning to train a single extra student this year, which just proves that for all its bluster, Labor believes the Coalition had the investment on training subsidies exactly right."

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