Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Albury Wodonga Health


Albury Wodonga Health

Mr TILLEY (Benambra) (14:17): My question is to the Minister for Health. When it is raining in Wodonga, as it is at the moment, staff at the Wodonga hospital have to put out buckets for leaks and put towels around glass panes to keep the corridors dry. The staff open up day procedure rooms at night because they do not have enough beds. Nurses are doing 18-hour shifts. Last night the hospital issued yet another alert for the demand and wait time in emergency. Can the minister finally tell the people of Wodonga when this government will provide their share of funding to build a new Albury-Wodonga hospital?

Mr FOLEY (Albert Park—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services, Minister for Equality) (14:18): Can I thank the member for his question, and can I just start by saying what a fantastic job the Albury Wodonga Health service does for communities on both sides of that river. Can I also say that those opposite could not deliver a stethoscope, let alone a new healthcare project. There are some in this place who are knowingly running around our state committing a deliberate fraud—

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! Just before calling the point of order, I warn members that the level of shouting has escalated to the point where members will be removed without further warning.

Ms Staley: On a point of order, Speaker, the minister is debating the question, and I ask you to bring him back to answering it.

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister is being relevant to the question that was asked.

Mr FOLEY: Thank you, honourable Speaker. The Albury-Wodonga health service delivers world-class service to the people of both southern New South Wales and north-eastern Victoria. What this government is doing is going through a process of engaging with the board, with the community and with health service providers in a methodical way to plan the delivery of the service in partnership with the New South Wales government. Despite what some would say as they go around this state committing a hoax on regional and rural Victorians—that somehow there is this magical partnership that just sees money rain from Canberra and Sydney at a click of their fingers—as opposed to this, we are undertaking careful, methodical planning with the healthcare services and the New South Wales government to deliver these arrangements.

We will go through as we are: a careful, methodical planning process in consultation with the board. And can I just take this as an opportunity to pass on my condolences to the family of the chief executive of Albury Wodonga Health, who tragically passed away from COVID over the course of this process, which has naturally seen that planning process delayed somewhat. I welcome the appointment of a new CEO, I welcome the constructive engagement with the New South Wales government and I acknowledge that the New South Wales government have in their budget today committed some $45 million for ongoing arrangements, which they first committed to in 2019 while—

Members interjecting.

Mr FOLEY: There the honourable member is wrong. That is where the honourable member is wrong. The honourable member needs to check his facts because what those opposite do is commit fraud and a deliberate misrepresentation on regional and rural Victorians, making promises they know they would never deliver.

Ms Staley: On a point of order, Speaker, the minister just used the phrase ‘deliberate misrepresentation’. That is just another way of saying ‘deliberately misleading the house’.

Members interjecting.

Ms Staley: He used the phrase ‘deliberate misrepresentation’.

Mr FOLEY: On the point of order, Speaker, I think a check of the record would show what I was referring to was the comments some make outside of this place, not in this place but outside of this place, as they misrepresent a genuine funding arrangement that is in place and that some have no intention of ever delivering on. Out there in the real world—

The SPEAKER: Order! I will check the record and report back to the house.

Mr TILLEY (Benambra) (14:22): My supplementary is to the Minister for Health—the tone-deaf Minister for Health. Cassie Metcalf had an emergency gall bladder operation through Albury Wodonga Health last September. Part of that operation included a stent that should have been removed just one month later. It is almost July. Cassie has lost track of how many times that surgery has been cancelled. She thinks it is about eight or nine times so far. On Friday she was told it was all go for this week. Twelve minutes after being told that, she was told that it was off again. The reason? There are not enough beds. She does not want the surgery anymore. The ups and downs are too much. Given the government has not built a new hospital on the border, what is the government doing to fix the immediate pressure on beds and elective surgery waiting lists at Albury Wodonga Health?

Mr FOLEY (Albert Park—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services, Minister for Equality) (14:23): What this government is doing is investing record amounts in the service delivery of Albury Wodonga Health. What this government is doing is investing record amounts in the people, the systems and the infrastructure of regional and rural health systems right across this state. What this government is doing is investing record amounts in how we turn around elective surgery waiting lists which have grown as a result of a COVID-19 once-in-100-year pandemic that is seeing people in record numbers being furloughed out of our healthcare system—not just in this state, not just on the southern side of the Murray River but on the other side of the Murray River and in every state and territory around the country and in every comparable system around the world. That is why we are investing $12 billion in more people, more systems and better infrastructure so as to make sure that this government delivers the world’s best health system again in a post-pandemic environment.