Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood has launched a direct plea with the Premier regarding the future of the West Gippsland Hospital.
Speaking in the Victorian Parliament this week Mr Blackwood said the time had come for the debate to move beyond partisan politics and for the communities needs to be prioritised when it came to health services.
‘My plea is to the Premier on behalf of my community,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘The West Gippsland Community deserve to have bipartisan support for this project [and] the current and future healthcare needs should be a priority that goes well beyond partisan politics.
‘But, if the Premier chooses to play politics with this issue, then what better way than giving his Labor candidate for Narracan, who is yet to be announced, something to campaign with?
‘Give them the opportunity to announce that a re-elected Andrews Government will build a new hospital on the greenfield site and promise to fund it in its first 2019 Budget.
‘Matthew Guy has announced our commitment to fund the commencement of construction of the new hospital in the 2019 Budget if we are fortunate enough to win government in November.
‘Still, despite strong advocacy from within your own ranks from Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing, you have refused to make comment relating to the future of the West Gippsland Hospital and commit to
a path forward for the local community.
‘As I said, this issue should be well above politics.
‘Premier, I am prepared to put my political aspirations second to the needs of my community, and I call on you to do the same.
Population growth continues to be a driving factor in the need for a new West Gippsland Hospital and demand for a wider range of services will only grow as population continues to swell.
‘Between 2011 and 2016 the population of Warragul increased by 12 per cent; Drouin, 28 per cent; Longwarry, 40 per cent; and Trafalgar 29 per cent.
‘When the current hospital was built the catchment that it had to service had a population of around 15,000. Today that same catchment has a population of 50,000 and is predicted to hit 90,000 over the next 20
‘In 2006 the West Gippsland Hospital board of management displayed enormous foresight by purchasing a greenfield site of 59 acres between Warragul and Drouin.
‘The site has great transport links, enormous potential for a purpose-built health hub and is located right in the middle of the residential growth centres of Warragul and Drouin.
‘As has been the case since the current hospital site was donated by Mary Sargent in 1898, the generosity of the community has been amazing, and a bequest provided significant funds to assist in the purchase of the new site.
In his address, Mr Blackwood also thanked the Where’s the Funding for West Gippsland Hospital Group who have lead the public voice calling for a new Hospital to be built.
‘The Where’s the Funding community group, headed by Rob Sinnett and Kerry Elliot, have been tireless in their efforts to engage with all local politicians, the Minister for Health, Shadow Minister for Health and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
‘The dedication, passion and hard work undertaken by these and others within the community have helped raise awareness for the need of a new Hospital and I thank them for their efforts and the time has come for the Premier to recognise the communities advocacy and commit to this project’ Mr Blackwood said.