A COALITION government would provide $5 million to build a cardiac laboratory for Albury Wodonga Health.
Liberal candidates Sophie Mirabella and Sussan Ley announced the significant health funding promise yesterday.
If it goes ahead, the pair will have pulled off one of their biggest joint funding coups since they secured $524 million for the internal route for the Albury-Wodonga Hume Freeway from John Howard in 2002.
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The cardiac catheterisation laboratory would be built at the Albury hospital.
It would avoid the need for patients suffering from heart conditions to travel to Melbourne and Sydney for treatment.
The two MPs were joined by prominent local Liberals for the announcement including member for Benambra Bill Tilley and Wodonga branch president Graeme Welsh, who is also a AWH board member.
AWH was represented by board chairman Ulf Ericson, board member Alison Jenvey and chief executive Dr Stuart Spring.
Rural Clinical School head of campus Dr Peter Vine and Save Albury Wodonga Health representatives Liz Hare, Robyn Raine and Bev Bennie were also present.
The show of strength comes as Mrs Mirabella is confronting a well-resourced independent candidate, Cathy McGowan, for her seat.
Asked whether an independent could make a similar sort of promise to AWH, Mrs Mirabella said: “You would have to ask them”.
“I am running on my record of what I have delivered and what I can deliver.
“It is up to the people of Indi to make an assessment of people’s past records and who can deliver.”
Ms Ley challenged Labor and other parties to match the funding promise made by the Coalition.
“You might like to challenge the Labor candidates in our electorates to ask (prime minister) Mr Rudd if he would make a similar commitment,” she said.
Farrer Labor candidate Gavin Hickey said he would contact head office about whether Labor would match the promise made by the Coalition.
Indi Labor candidate Robyn Walsh would not be drawn, instead questioning whether the money could be better spent elsewhere.
The funding pledge follows a recent visit to Albury by shadow health minister Peter Dutton, who met AWH and Save Albury Wodonga Health.
“We’ve spent a long time discussing the uniqueness of AWH and the uniqueness of the region,” Mrs Mirabella said.
“It is a unique situation with Albury-Wodonga.
“They are two towns, but one community and working together with Sussan over the last 11½ and half years, we’ve been able to get the sort of funding this region needs.”
Mr Ericson said the upgrade was high on AWH’s list of priorities.
“This is an outstanding announcement,” he said.
A $5 million federally funded PET scanner to detect cancer and cardiovascular disease is now being built on site.