Australian state election looks at bogus spending promises in the face of growing health crisis

Ahead of the state election on November 26, the current Labor government in Victoria is pledging new spending on hospital and health infrastructure, like the opposition Liberal Party. These promises are a fraud—the crisis in Victoria’s public health system will get worse regardless of which party forms government after the election.

Temporary emergency department tents at Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria [Photo: WSWS]

After decades of bipartisan under-investment and under-funding, every area of ​​public health is in dire straits. There is a shortage of hospital beds, an increase in elective surgery waiting lists, ambulance services on the verge of complete collapse, and a chronic shortage of mental health, community health and clinical services.

Various election promises—even if they are implemented, which is by no means certain—will barely scratch the surface of this crisis.

Premier Daniel Andrews’ Labor government recently announced $900 million for a hospital in outer suburban Melton and $225 million for a jointly funded redevelopment of Albury Wodonga Hospital on the Victoria and New South Wales border . The opposition Liberal Party has promised to start construction on the Melton hospital in 2023, a year ahead of Labor’s start date, falsely claiming they will “defund health without raising taxes” by shelving the scheduled $35 billion rail project. Will fix the crisis”.

The promised Melton hospital is an example of how underfunding by successive governments will continue. Melbourne’s outer suburbs, 45 kilometers west of central Melbourne, have seen their population quadruple in 20 years as working-class families move to semi-affordable housing in the area. It now has over 180,000 people and is projected to grow to 500,000 by 2050. Despite this, there is not a single hospital in this area. The government plans to have a 100-bed facility operational by 2029.

This is grossly inadequate – the World Health Organization recommends three hospital beds per 1,000 people. On this basis, the hospital serving the current population alone should have more than 540 beds. five times Which is planned by the government. There will be crowd as soon as the hospital opens.

For Melton, the Labor government’s healthcare infrastructure underlines its contempt for working people. Residents of the suburb currently rely on the nearest major public hospital in Sunshine, a 40-minute drive away. In May, emergency department patients at Sunshine Hospital had to queue in a carpark for nearly two hours before being tested and even being able to enter the overcrowded waiting room.

Leave a Comment