A PROPOSAL by Sussan Ley to have private health investment in the Albury hospital upgrade has been rejected by Victoria and ignored by NSW.
The Border Mail asked the offices of Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas and her NSW counterpart Ryan Park if they would entertain private health investment in the upgrade.
A Victorian government spokeswoman responded with disdain to the federal deputy Liberal Party leader.
"We won't be taking advice from Sussan Ley, whose only legacy as health minister is the most significant cuts to Australia's public health system of all time," she said.
"While Ms Ley attempts to scrape together political points, we are focused on working together with NSW to deliver for the border communities of Albury-Wodonga with one of the most significant investments ever by Labor governments in regional health infrastructure."
Mr Park's office's response was more terse, just one sentence which did not acknowledge Ms Ley or her idea.
"The NSW, Victorian and Australian governments have committed $558 million to the Albury Wodonga Regional Hospital project," a government representative said.
Better Border Health, which is pushing for a new Twin Cities hospital, gave a more positive response to Ms Ley's proposal but noted it was not a panacea to the Border's health needs.
Spokeswoman Michelle Cowan said: "It's good that she's got involved finally because she's been kind of absent in the discussion.
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"We want all the MPs to stand up for what we deserve in Albury-Wodonga and I think the 2021 master plan alluded to all of the possibilities including a public-private investment so I don't think that we should rule anything out, but it's not the answer ultimately to what we're talking about."
Ms Cowan said pressure needed to be maintained on state governments because "it's not what we were promised, it's not going to be a single-site hospital, it's still going to be split across the border".
"I think she (Ms Ley) needs to acknowledge we need the federal government at the table having conversations with the state governments," Ms Cowan said.
Asked last week if she expected Commonwealth funding for the hospital, Ms Ley pointed to the states as the key source for finance.
"I'll always fight for federal funding, but I always have said that public hospital funding comes from state governments, which is why the funding that's been allocated now has come from our two state governments, inadequate though it is when you look at the paucity of the Victorian contribution and the fact the NSW contribution, though welcomed, is not fit for the future," Ms Ley said.
"If two state governments come to the Commonwealth with a proposal I believe that proposal will always be looked at seriously but my interest in a public-private partnership is because we should not just be waiting for governments to fund this, if indeed there is an alternative opportunity in a private hospital coming to the table."
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