PREMIER Denis Napthine used an excavator to officially turn the first sod on the New Bendigo Hospital project yesterday.
Dr Napthine sat in an excavator, took the controls, and lifted a bucket-load of soil to mark the milestone yesterday afternoon.
Dr Napthine was joined by Minister for Health David Davis and Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge for the event.
Dr Napthine said the celebration was a major milestone for what he described as the most important project in Bendigo since the Gold Rush.
“There are already 180 people working on this site and they’ve been working here since the contract was first signed on the 31st of May,” he said.
“Right from that day forward there’s been people working on this project, working to make sure that we were delivering this $630 million project, delivering the best health services anywhere in regional Australia and indeed anywhere, I believe, in the regional southern hemisphere ... this is an iconic project for Bendigo and region.
“We know that this project will deliver 372 beds, it will deliver 80 mental health beds.
“It will deliver a significant number of day-stay beds, 10 new operating theatres.
“It will be a real significant project in terms of the number of health services available, the quality of those health services and bringing new services that were previously only available in Melbourne and other capital cities here to Bendigo to service Bendigo and district.”
Dr Napthine said the project was progressing quickly.
He said work to prepare the site started immediately after contracts were signed with the Exemplar Health consortium in May.
“We are on time and on budget for project completion by late 2016,” he said.