Cuts to funds under fire

STATE Opposition leader Daniel Andrews was in Bendigo yesterday weighing in on speculation the federal government plans to slash $277 million from Victoria's health system.

Mr Andrews said Victoria needed a state Labor government to stand up to Tony Abbott.

"Denis Napthine and Tony Abbott are cutting millions from our regional hospitals – you just can't trust the Liberals with health," he said.

"The money the Liberals are taking from our hospitals could clear the elective surgery waiting list or employ thousands of nurses.

"Tony Abbott is taking $7 million from Bendigo hospital ... and nearly $300 million from the Victorian health system as a whole.

"What that means is more patients across country Victoria and across our state will wait longer in pain for the care they need than they should." 

But Mr Andrews wouldn't be drawn on the health policies his party would be taking to the election; saying they had to wait until after the May budget.

His visit comes after Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said this week that Bendigo Health would shoulder $7 million in cuts as a result of the the withdrawal of federal funding from Victoria's health system.

Mr Andrews also commented on the state Auditor-General's finding that country children were under-performing in the classroom compared with their city counterparts.

He said the government's cuts to education and other services were felt more strongly in rural areas than in the city.

"What we know is the further you are from Melbourne, government cuts hurt more and more.

"I grew up in country Victoria .. but I've never been to a country town that was better off under a Liberal government."

He said that if elected, his government would "undo" the Liberal government's cuts to TAFE institutions.

He said country parents had told him they were angry the Napthine government had made cuts to TAFE institutions and that their children's classrooms were rundown.

"They just don't understand why the government isn't governing for them," Mr Andrews said.

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