House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Constituency Statements

Portland District Health

10:16 am

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to ask some very serious questions on behalf of the community of Portland in my electorate and of broader south-west Victoria. On 27 February, the helipad next to Portland District Health was closed. This followed the suspension of the use of the helipad before Christmas. This helipad came into operation in 2014. It came into operation because the community fundraised and agitated to get a helipad in the centre of town. Before then, patients had to go to and from Portland Airport, which is about a 25-minute or 30-minute drive. There are about two flights a week in and out of the helipad next to Portland District Health. It is a vital community service, and the community has been left in the dark as to why it has been closed and what is being done to reopen it.

It seems that it has been closed because there is a CASA regulation now in force which has meant that the type of helicopter which is used now by Air Ambulance can't land at this specific helipad. This is meant to have impacted other helipads. What I would like to know is: what is the Albanese Labor government doing to help and support the local community to deal with this CASA regulation? CASA is a federal regulator, and when it makes these types of decisions, obviously, the government has to be on top of them and make sure that they don't impact local communities. I've spoken to the hospital CEO and I've also spoken to the local government in the area to make sure that they're aware and doing everything they can to fix this issue, but I would like to know what the Albanese Labor government are doing to assist Portland District Health and the shire to address this issue.

Every week that goes by while we're not allowing flights into the helipad next to Portland District Health is a week when we are putting those in the community at risk. The time that it takes to get out to Portland Airport, compared to a helicopter coming in to Portland District Health, could be the difference in saving someone's life. I hope that we will be able to get this fixed, and I hope that the Albanese Labor government will be able to play its role to get this helipad open as quickly as possible.