Leadership change creates Bendigo Hospital delay fears

THE aftershock of former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu’s resignation on Wednesday night is being felt around Bendigo, with concerns over how the change of leadership will affect the new Bendigo hospital and the teachers’ pay dispute.

But state member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said a Coalition government under Denis Napthine would be no different to Mr Baillieu’s.

The Labor MP said Mr Napthine was a senior member of the government which oversaw cuts to Victoria’s TAFEs, hospitals and schools, and delays to the construction of the new Bendigo Hospital.

“There may be a change in leader, but it’s the same government,” she said. 

“Denis Napthine has been one of the most senior members of the government for the past two years. The cuts and policies remain the same.”

Ms Allan is concerned the new hospital would continue to be delayed under the Napthine government.

“My real concern is while we have a government that’s been totally consumed and distracted by the leadership crisis, Bendigo’s most important project is left languishing,” she said.

Bendigo’s Australian Education Union (AEU) organiser Michael Claven said a change of leadership would not change the problems which marred the Baillieu government. “They (the Victorian government) are incapable of resolving the teacher’s pay dispute,” he said. 

“While we have every hope a change of leader might be some impetus to change this, it might be a forlorn hope. 

“Mr Napthine has been part of the government that has overseen a series of broken promises and savage cuts to public education across the state.”

But Nationals Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum said the government would continue to work with both the AEU and Bendigo hospital tenderers to reach solutions as soon as possible.  “We expect a tenderer to be announced very soon and a starting date,” he said. 

“This will be an amazing project and we are expecting to get exceptional value for money for this because of the exhaustive process we have gone through with the final two tenderers.

“The entire government is committed to continuing to build our economy and consolidate our finances. 

“I think Denis Napthine will continue with that tight and responsible management of our economy.”

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