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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1048


Ms KING (Ballarat) (14:30): My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister confirm that his government will fund the $100 million upgrade to the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, a hospital which treats more than 250,000 patients every year, or will this too face the Abbott axe?

The SPEAKER: I call the honourable Minister for Health, and I would add that the House was quiet to listen to the question and I ask the House to be quiet and listen to the answer.

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Health and Minister for Sport) (14:30): It is a reasonable question to ask. The proposal was a $156 million proposal from the Victorian state government and originally the state government said that they would pay for this project in its entirety. I am advised that the Gillard government then came in, even though the Victorian government had said that they would pay for this project, and in another spree of throwing money around the then Gillard government said that they would fund the $100 million even though the Victorian government had already said that they would spend $156 million. So yes, I want to see this facility built but I want to get value for taxpayers' money so we are continuing discussions with the Victorian government about how best we might add value to the Victorian health services.

It struck me a little strange that when you looked at the work of the previous government, they were promising money to build facilities already committed to by the Victorian government, yet at the same time they were taking money away from cancer patients. They were promising money to superclinics that never opened and never saw patients. They were spending money on great big new bureaucracies that did not see a single patient, and while all of this waste was going on, more and more pensioners were waiting longer and longer for elective surgery. The former government absolutely stands condemned in terms of their management of health and they have continued, I might say, into opposition.

Ms King: I seek leave to table the article from the Herald Sun where the minister has said that he will not be funding the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

Leave not granted.