Matthew Guy vows $400m to upgrade Maroondah Hospital in election pledge

The Coalition plans to lve the first section of the Suburban Rail Loop if elected to fund hospital and health projects instead after repeated failings in the sector.

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Guy intends to pour the project’s $34.5 billion into health, but only $11.8 billion has been allocated budget for the rail line, $2.3 billion of which has already been spent on early works and cannot be recouped.

In August, the opposition announced $8 billion from the rail line would go directly to regional hospitals. But pressed about that funding on Friday, Guy said the media release should have said “up to” $8 billion.

He based the figure on allocating one-quarter of health funding to the regions, which he recommitted to on Friday.

“We’re yet to see what that pool of money might be,” Guy said on Friday, adding no money would be borrowed to fund his pledges.

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The opposition’s string of commitments to the struggling health sector includes $125 million to upgrade the state’s triple-zero call service, the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority.

The funding would be used to upgrade the service’s IT system, provide ongoing funding and train half of all staff to answer calls for ambulance, fire and police.

The proposal, which was criticized as “fraught” by the Victorian Ambulance Union and the United Firefighters Union, would be on top of the $333 million put aside in this year’s state budget.

Asked about the announcement on Saturday, senior government minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Liberal Party’s record spoke for itself.

“They are fantastic at closing things down, going to war with our hardworking paramedics and nurses, cutting services, closing hospitals… That is what they do, and they do it very well.”

She said the Andrews government would have more announcements to boost the health system in the lead-up to November’s election.

A Victorian government spokesman said the Liberals could not be trusted with health anywhere, “but especially Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, where they closed Burwood Hospital”.

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