Maxwell seeks Albury Wodonga Health funding

Question without notice

May 11, 2022

Tania Maxwell MP, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Member for Northern Victoria, asked the Attorney-General and fellow MP for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes MP a question without notice for Health Minister Martin Foley MP about funding for a new Albury Wodonga Health campus:

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (12:05):

My question is to the Attorney-General for the Minister for Health regarding the need for a new single-site hospital in Albury-Wodonga.

Albury Wodonga Health has completed a master plan that addresses the needs of the cross-border community. We know a new single-site hospital is desperately overdue. I have heard the call of local community leaders. They want focus on the dire health needs of the community and need a commitment from the Victorian government to deliver a new hospital.

I have worked collaboratively with the minister and you, Attorney, on health projects for our communities. The great news last week for Bright hospital is a prime example of that.

So my question on behalf of this community is: will the minister also find the necessary funding for this critical project in the $2.2 billion yet to be allocated in the current 2022–23 budget?

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:06):

I thank Ms Maxwell for her question for the Minister for Health.

I too am familiar with the needs of that community. It is a hospital that is utilised by my family members as well. It has been a wonderful resource, providing great services to people in that region, and it is fair to say that we know that the infrastructure does not currently match the efforts of the hardworking staff up there.

In relation to your question, you referenced a completed master plan or completed business case. That is incorrect. It is still in progress, and I do commend Albury Wodonga Health along with NSW Health and our health department, who continue to have discussions in relation to that. Similarly to the question that Dr Cumming asked me yesterday in relation to the Melton hospital, there are a lot of processes that need to be undertaken.

You have referenced preference for a single site. I have received mixed advice from people on whether they think it should be in Albury or it should be in Wodonga, for example. So there are ongoing discussions about these important matters, and in order to fulfill a business case it has to be completed with an idea of what you need to provide in the way of funding and what type of services and staff will be required.

Not all of those questions are answered yet, but I know that it is a priority for that community and a lot of people have views. A lot of experts have views, which is much more important than hearing from politicians. And I know I have had advocacy myself from collections of health experts up there. All of those views are certainly welcomed by me, and I know that the Minister for Health is also very interested in progressing this project.

As I said, the master plan process is well advanced and underway, and in relation to more detail I think it is probably more appropriate from the Minister for Health, because of course most of my knowledge about this is not in my ministerial capacities but in my role as a member for Northern Victoria.

Ms MAXWELL (12:08):

Thank you, Attorney, for your answer.

A proactive group of community-minded leaders, including doctors and health workers, have established Better Border Health, a working group aimed at raising the profile of the urgent need for a new site for the hospital in Albury-Wodonga.

They would be very interested to meet with the minister, and so my question is: will the minister accompany me—and perhaps you, Attorney, given that this, as you said, is not within your portfolio but within your electorate of Northern Victoria—to meet with this group and hear their aspirations for a new hospital?

Ms SYMES (12:09):

I thank Ms Maxwell for her supplementary question, and I will pass it on to the Minister for Health for his response in accordance with the standing orders.