darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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December 5, 2012

The Gillard Labor Government is slashing $3.68 million from Gippsland health services in an attempt to achieve a surplus according to The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Mr Chester said the cuts, which have been made across the 2011-12 and 2012-13 financial years, have the potential to negatively impact on health services offered to the community.

He said a total of $1.6 billion in funding was being cut across the nation.

“It’s very disappointing that Gippsland patients and their families are being penalised because this government has failed to manage the nation’s finances properly,” Mr Chester said.

“Hospital board members, senior management, staff and volunteers all do an excellent job but a Federal Government funding cut of this magnitude will inevitably lead to a reduction in the ability to deliver services at a local level. The cuts are retrospective and ongoing, meaning they will not only impact on current services but also the future health needs of the local community.”

Mr Chester said the Gillard Government’s ‘mean and tricky’ use of population figures to justify the cuts proved that it couldn’t be trusted.

“The government is claiming Victoria’s population fell by more than 11,000 in 2011 as a reason for the cuts,” Mr Chester said.

“However, its very own Commonwealth Statistician said there was a population increase of 75,400 in 2011. The Gillard Government is cooking the books to achieve a budget surplus for political reasons and the health outcomes of local families will suffer.”

Last week in Parliament, Mr Chester called for the establishment of a dedicated regional hospitals fund by the Federal Government.

“There are a number of hospitals located throughout regional Australia searching for avenues of funding to support critical developments and associated capital works,” Mr Chester said.

“The scale of funding we are talking about is beyond the capacity of a community in terms of its own fundraising activities. We will need a future program to assist regional hospitals to undertake much-needed upgrades in partnership with State Governments.

“Instead of cutting funding, the government should be investing in the future of health services in regional areas like Gippsland.”

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