Mr TILLEY (Benambra) (14:16): My question is to the Premier. Last week Albury Wodonga Health was forced to declare a code yellow, an internal emergency declaration, because patients were left waiting in ambulances for treatment. Thirty million dollars has been provided by the New South Wales government to build a new emergency department for the border region. Why has the Andrews government steadfastly refused to build this needed facility?
Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) (14:17): I do thank the member for Benambra, and it is a very good question. I would have to take issue with the way he has described our government’s effort. This is the problem. I can well remember when I was privileged and honoured to play a different role in a different government having conversations with the New South Wales government. I said, ‘We need to do better for border communities. Instead of having a Wodonga hospital and an Albury hospital, why don’t we merge the two together?’. You have no idea the resistance that came my way. For some reason that southern part of New South Wales is not part of New South Wales. They were very resistant to this. So you know what I did—I said, ‘Well, okay, fine. Let’s move them, and Victoria will run it, even though it’s in New South Wales’. So I am terribly sorry, but if the member for Benambra expects me to sit here and be lectured about the fact that we have not looked after border communities and we have not looked after the formation of the only health service where one state manages assets—
Ms Staley: On a point of order, Speaker, the Premier is debating the question rather than answering it, and I would ask you to bring him back to answering it.
The SPEAKER: Order! The Premier does have 1 minute and 46 left for his answer, and I am sure he is coming to answering the question.
Mr ANDREWS: Albury Wodonga Health is unique, and I can say this not just as a former health minister and as the leader of our government but because members of my own family have received care, particularly regional cancer services, out of Albury Wodonga. And I will not be lectured by the member for Ripon/location—whatever it is—about these matters. They are far too serious for the nonsense commentary we get from the member for Ripon. The point I was making—and I am sure the member for Benambra appreciates this even if his colleague does not: the nurses, the doctors, the team at Albury Wodonga Health do an outstanding job. The only argument we have is when the member for Benambra tries to assert that our government has not supported that health service. We in fact created that health service, and we will support that health service and its staff and the patients who turn to it every day we have the honour and privilege of governing this state, not just because it is in the community where I grew up—although that is not unimportant to me—but because every patient deserves the care that is most important to them as fast as possible and as close to home as possible.
I well remember the member for Ripon running up the street when we made an announcement at Maryborough hospital. I remember matching it, and it will be a Labor government that delivers it. That is the fact of the matter. It is not who runs up the street making promises, it is who gets the job done. Whether it is in Albury-Wodonga or Maryborough or anywhere in between, this government will continue to invest in health outcomes, not play health politics.
Mr TILLEY (Benambra) (14:20): On a supplementary question, the state government refuses to provide the board of Albury Wodonga Health and the border communities with the master plan for the new health facility, including a new emergency department that is so desperately needed. Why is the plan not being released by the Victorian government in the interests of community transparency?
Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) (14:20): I tell you what, if New South Wales funded it there is a first time for everything, because at the end of the day the New South Wales government were happy to actually give us the Albury hospital—‘You look after it. You run it as part of Victoria’s health system’. Again, that is not a version of events, that is the fact. That is the history. I will tell you what I will do, though. I do not necessarily know that the way the honourable member has described events is accurate. I am not casting aspersions; I do not know. I will need to speak to the Minister for Health about that. If the member for Benambra wants to have a cup of tea with me to talk about the hospital, I am more than happy to make time—or something stronger, depending—and we will see what we can do. It will be your shout, though. We will see what we can do. I know and understand this community. It is a proud community. The fact that you are a long way from Melbourne does not mean you should have to settle for anything other than excellence. It has always been my view and it has always been what we have striven for, and we will do the same here at Albury Wodonga Health.