If elected in October, the Canberra Liberals would spend $395 million on a new building at the Canberra Hospital and provide an extra $8 million for nurses, doctors and other staff who would work there.
Opposition Leader and Health spokesman Jeremy Hanson told the Legislative Assembly today that the Liberals would revive Labor’s pre-2012 election promise to commit to the rebuilding.
He said then Health Minister Katy Gallagher made a case for spending $375 million to rebuild Building 3 at the hospital in the lead up to the last Assembly election.
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“They went into the last election promising this,” he said.
“They said they were going to do this and made the case that this needs to be done, but sadly after the 2012 election that all fell apart.
“To the outrage of many who work at the Canberra Hospital, the Labor Party pulled the plug.”
Mr Hanson said the Liberals would take the $375 million the ACT Government had committed to stage one of its light rail project in the 2016-17 budget and redirect it to the hospital project.
“The exact amount put into this budget for light rail is the exact amount that was committed to the hospital rebuild,” he said.
“We will take that money away from light rail and put it back where the community wants it, into the hospital.”
ACT Minister for Transport and Municipal Services Meegan Fitzharris responded, saying the Liberals Shadow Treasurer, Alistair Coe, was “clearly out of his depth if he thinks spending $300 million tearing up contracts will give them more money to invest in services”.
“Light rail will transform Canberra, cancelling it would send Canberra businesses and the ACT economy into freefall and cost our city 3500 jobs,” she said.
Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury said the Canberra Liberals were spruiking a “magic pudding” of funds they imagined would be saved by cancelling light rail, but not factoring in compensation payments that would be required.
He said it wasn’t clear how the Liberals’ proposal would fit in with existing Government works and planned works at The Canberra Hospital and that he would be looking very closely at these matters.
“We’ve seen some quite fluffy policies coming out, completely failing to recognise existing work that’s been put into these areas,” Mr Rattenbury said.
The Liberals said the new hospital building would include a new 92-bed emergency department, a new 48-bed intensive care unit; a new 25-bed emergency medical unit and caapacity for 20 new operating theatres.
“The new hospital will also cater for a new 25 bed medical assessment planning unit, 105 ambulatory treatment spaces and a new state of the art medical imaging unit. There will also be new admission foyer, sterilisation unit and new patient and volunteer facilities,” Mr Hanson said.
Pictured above is an artist’s impression of the planned hospital building supplied by the Canberra Liberals.