Minister’s Statment

I rise to inform the house that as of midnight last night the Mildura Base Public Hospital is officially back in public hands where it belongs. More than two decades after the Kennett Liberal-Nationals government privatised it, the Sunraysia community have woken up this morning with their own local public hospital. I had the great pleasure of visiting Mildura in August last year, together with the Premier and my Labor colleague the member for Northern Victoria Mr Gepp, when we announced that the hospital would be returned to public hands, and I will never forget the raw emotion from that community that day. Of course in any other year I would have loved to be there joining them and celebrating today.

More than 900 existing staff from the hospital, Mildura’s biggest employer, have transitioned across, and I thank each and every one of them. It has been an incredible contribution, given that they have been transitioning in the midst of a global pandemic.

The $1 million Mildura and northern Mallee regional service plan is due for release before the end of this year and will provide a blueprint for service delivery that best meets the unique needs of the Mildura and Mallee communities now and into the future. This comes on top of $8.8 million from our Regional Health Infrastructure Fund for an eight-bed intensive care unit, an eight-bed paediatric ward and the replacement of operating theatre equipment. The Mildura Base Public Hospital will be better integrated with other health services across the northern Mallee region, including Mallee Track Health and Community Service and Robinvale District Health Services.

Of course I want to take this opportunity to thank Bob Cameron for the great work that he has done during this transition. I congratulate the new board chair, Mary Rydberg, and the new chief executive, Terry Welch, who is a proven leader in regional health. Congratulations to Ali Cupper as well, to everyone who has advocated for this transition, to Minister Symes and to many others. This has been an enormous effort from many, many individuals. The community spoke, and the Andrews Labor government listened. We have done what the coalition never did. We gave the locals their public hospital back. Congratulations.