House debates

Monday, 9 December 2013

Constituency Statements

Corio Electorate: Health Services

10:43 am

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) Share this | | Hansard source

Geelong is lucky to be well serviced by Barwon Health, a fabulous hospital network which does a great job in our region, but Barwon Health itself acknowledges that the part of Geelong which is in most need of medical facilities is the north of Geelong. Its studies indicate that there are diseases which are more prevalent in the north, such as diabetes, and that there are fewer services in the north to support them. What is needed is a facility which can extend those services into the north and provide for day procedures. This is now the desire and ambition of a number within Geelong.

In the last state budget, the state government committed $50 million to building such a facility in Geelong's south, in Waurn Ponds. That is obviously a great result for Waurn Ponds. It actually did not meet the area of greatest need within the Geelong community, which is Geelong's north. That need is now a screaming issue and must be met.

There are both federal and state roles to be played here. To be fair, principally this is ultimately going to be a decision of a state government to provide the bulk of the funding for the building of such a facility, but the federal government can play a role in leading the way. At the election, I was very proud to be able to make an election promise on behalf of Labor that, if elected, we would provide $1 million to do a lot of the preliminary work to get such a facility off the ground. By contrast, the Liberals promised absolutely zero, which was consistent with their attitude across the board in Geelong, and particularly in Geelong's north where there was not a single election commitment made to the people of Corio.

In Saturday's editorial of the Geelong Advertiser, there was a call for the federal government to take a lead—notwithstanding that it did not make a commitment during the election—to not let this issue die. I echo that call by saying that there does need to be a commitment made by both the federal Liberal government and the state Liberal government to come to the party and make sure that we have a proper medical facility in Geelong's north and that the north of Geelong not be ignored as it has been for far too long by the Liberal Party.

On that topic, I also want to mention the issue of Avalon airport and Jetstar. This is a critical test for the Abbott government and the Napthine government to do what it takes to make sure that Jetstar continues its service at Avalon airport. Carping at Linfox, frankly has been an outrage on the part of the Premier of Victoria. We are lucky that we have a company there that has the long-term vision which is going to be needed for this long-term play. It would be a mistake for Jetstar to leave Avalon airport, which is at the heart of one of the fastest growing regions of Australia, Melbourne's south-west. I call on them to hold off their decision for another year, to give Avalon a chance.