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Country hospitals hit by rising power bills

Wednesday 23 August 2017

The Andrews Labor Government has refused to commit to providing more funding to country hospitals facing skyrocketing power bills.

In Parliament on Wednesday, Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio would not guarantee additional energy costs at country hospitals – expected to be worth about $2 million in western Victoria alone – would be covered.

Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh condemned the Minister for abandoning country hospitals, just months after the Andrews Government failed to stop the closure of Hazelwood Power Station and the loss of 22 per cent of the state’s baseload power.

“Regional hospitals deliver a vital service to our country communities, but the Andrews Labor Government has turned its back on us,” Mr Walsh said.

“Daniel Andrews was wrong when he said power bills would only go up about four per cent after he let Hazelwood close without a back-up plan to replace the lost power supply.

“Rising energy bills add more strain to country hospital budgets that are already stretched thin and it is up to Daniel Andrews to increase funding and make sure regional health services aren’t cut as a result.”

In her question to the Minister, Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said Wimmera Health Care Group in Horsham expected power bills to rise by more than $500,000 this financial year, while Hamilton’s Western District Health Service has been notified by Health Purchasing Victoria that its electricity costs would increase by more than $360,000 this year.

“Country hospitals in western Victoria have told me they expect power bills to go up about 80 per cent – about $2 million more than previous years,” Ms Kealy said.

“Regional hospitals can’t rely on hospital auxiliary cake stalls to help cover soaring energy costs.

“The Andrews Labor Government must urgently commit to funding the significant increase in energy costs in full.”