A DATE for construction to start on the new Bendigo Hospital is yet to be set, and Health Minister David Davis won’t commit to the hospital opening in 2016 as planned.
Construction of the $630 million hospital was due to start late last year.
Mr Davis would not say when work would start on the project during yesterday’s visit to Bendigo and wouldn’t say if the matter could have been better handled.
“I think you need to stay tuned and I think you might be pleasantly surprised that we get the very, very best outcome for Bendigo,” he said.
“I can guarantee we’re going to get a great outcome for Bendigo, I think you’re going to get the biggest hospital in country Victoria’s history, a hospital that’s $102 million more than Jacinta Allan promised.
“I’m very proud of the progress with the Bendigo Hospital.”
Mr Davis said additional documents would be served to the two consortia tendering for the project and both would need to respond within six weeks.
He said it was a “short, sharp offer process” and would not say if Lend Lease, which has a union agreement at odds with state government policy, was excluded from the project.
“I’m hopeful the process will start very soon,” he said.
“The process is a very short sharp one, and as I say, within days there will be documents in the hands of the tenderers and those tenderers will have a short period in which to respond.”
Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum said the project would be built on time and deliver “the very best services that Bendigo can hope for”.
He said local ALP parliament members Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards were advocating for a smaller hospital. But Ms Allan said she was standing up for the local community.
“The government has completely bungled both the tender process and the budgeting process,” she said. “It’s the Bendigo community that’s going to be worse off.
“It’s now become apparent we are not getting our new hospital by 2016, because of the Liberal National government’s chronic mishandling of the tender process.
“The delays are going to hurt local patients and the local community.”