Abbott visits hospital

Bendigo Health’s estimated $600,000 “carbon tax bill” was the hot topic when federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott came to town yesterday.

Mr Abbott met hospital executives and local media to talk about the health service’s rise in power costs, which he lays firmly at the feet of the carbon pricing.

“Today we have seen evidence of the difficulties the people of Bendigo are going to face because of the Gillard government’s carbon tax,” he said.

“This hospital estimates that their bills for power and for gas will increase by about $600,000 every year because of the carbon tax.

“That’s $600,000 that won’t be available for patient services because of the carbon tax.

“This is just one of the multitudinous ways in which the carbon tax is going to make life harder for the people of Australia.”

Federal MP Steve Gibbons slammed Abbot’s claim as “dishonest”.

“Mr Abbott and his colleagues continue to deliberately deceive people by attributing any increase in electricity prices to the carbon pricing scheme, when everyone knows that the biggest reason for these increases is the Baillieu state Liberal/National government and long-overdue investment by power companies in their own infrastructure,” Mr Gibbons said.

He said an independent report by Sinclair Knight Merz estimated the total impact of carbon pricing on the state’s healthcare system would be 0.1 per cent of the total budget in 2013 rising to 0.2 per cent by 2020.

But Bendigo Health’s buildings and infrastructure executive director David Walker confirmed estimates put the hospital’s carbon tax bill at $500,000 to $600,000, depending on extremes in weather.

“The $600,000 is Bendigo Health’s estimate of the increase in electricity and gas bills due to the carbon tax,” Mr Walker said.

“July’s bills have come in and they separately list the carbon charge and they are on track to meet that number.”

Mr Walker said the hospital was introducing energy saving measures to combat the price increases.

“We have always had a very proactive department that looks after this. 

“We have an energy and sustainability engineer, whose job it is to monitor our expenditure and look at where we can save energy,” he said.

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