Ms MIKAKOS (Northern Metropolitan—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (12:10): I rise to inform the house on how the Andrews Labor government is ensuring Victorians get the best emergency care when they need it. The 2019–20 budget invests nearly $300 million to meet growing demand and support improved response times by our dedicated ambulance services. This budget fully funds our election commitment that will see 23 cutting-edge response vehicles hit the roads, new ambulance stations at East Bentleigh and Clyde North and upgraded stations at Gisborne and Ocean Grove. More than 90 paramedics will be recruited to support the upgrade of 15 single-crew stations to convert them to dual-crew and deploy additional mobile intensive care ambulance officers and paramedics across regional and rural Victoria.
Since we have come into government the Andrews Labor government has invested a record $1 billion in Victoria’s ambulance service, more than double the previous Liberal government, funding 1000 paramedics and 35 new and upgraded ambulance stations. Since I have been the minister I have had the great pleasure of opening up some of our newest branches at Diamond Creek and in Preston and turning the sod at the Terang and Bacchus Marsh branches, which are currently under construction. These modern facilities will support our paramedics to do what they do best, and that is saving lives.
Under the previous coalition government, when Ms Crozier was the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Victoria’s ambulance system was in crisis and ambulance response times were the worst on the Australian mainland, putting lives at risk. Thanks to our investment and our hardworking paramedics, ambulances are now responding to emergency cases faster than ever before. The latest data shows paramedics reached 84.2 per cent of code 1 patients within 15 minutes—2 minutes and 50 seconds quicker when compared to the Liberals’ final March quarter.
So when it comes to our paramedics, we are backing our paramedics, unlike the Liberals, who during the Kennett government privatised the emergency despatch system and privatised non-emergency patient transport, and even some ambulance branches got privatised as well. They slashed paramedic jobs, and that of course cost lives. So we will always back our paramedics and ensure that people get the life-saving services that they need.