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Thursday, 26 November 2009
Page: 13276


Mr HUNT (9:30 AM) —Prior to the last election the Howard government made a commitment to protect and save Warley Hospital. The commitment was made before the commencement of writs. It was a decision of government. It was a decision that was then backed up with a promise of $2.5 million. It was a decision which should have been honoured by the incoming government. That decision was not honoured by the incoming government. There was then a ‘blame game’, to use a phrase, between the federal and state governments. The federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, said it was not her issue. The Victorian Premier, John Brumby, said Warley Hospital on Phillip Island was not his issue. Neither Labor government would take responsibility. We had kept that hospital going; we had supported it at federal level. The result was that neither of the two Labor governments would take responsibility. They walked away from Warley Hospital and Warley Hospital closed. As a result, the people of Phillip Island have not had a hospital now for two years. An area of residential need does not have a hospital. An area which quadruples in population over summer does not have the emergency services needed to support that population. So lives are at risk, let there be no doubt about that.

Against that background, in the last few days there has been an announcement of $2.35 million in funding for Sea Lake bush nursing hospital, another bush nursing hospital in Victoria, along with the Bays Hospital in Mornington, from the federal and state governments—almost exactly the amount of money that was promised to Warley Hospital by the previous government, withdrawn by the incoming government and denied by the state Labor government. If that money can be found, as it rightly was for Sea Lake hospital, to help a small community with similar characteristics to maintain a bush nursing hospital, the question is: why has no funding of comparable nature been allocated to the people of Phillip Island? What is the reason? There has never been a good reason. The minister has never visited Phillip Island and faced the people. So I respectfully but clearly say to Minister Roxon: come to Phillip Island, face the people, explain why you can support Sea Lake but you cannot support Phillip Island and make the decision that it is time to recognise that Warley Hospital on Phillip Island deserves its $2.5 million. (Time expired)