State Budget exposes Labor’s long list of broken promises for regional health

No progress has been made and no new funding has been allocated towards long-promised regional health projects in Halls Creek, Laverton, Meekatharra, Mullewa or Tom Price in the 2024- 25 State Budget.

Shadow Minister for Regional Health Martin Aldridge MLC said the Opposition had used Budget Estimates in Parliament this week to interrogate the Minister for Health about the failure to progress these key election commitments.

“Why is it that those communities in WA that are the most distant, the most disadvantaged, and the most in need are being left out while the Cook Labor Government pushes ahead with new pedestrian bridges in the CBD and ploughs billions of dollars into Metronet?” Mr Aldridge said.

Ahead of the 2021 State Election, WA Labor promised a $24 million renal dialysis centre in Halls Creek.

“There is currently no money in the State Budget to fund this project, either in the current financial year or in the forward estimates, and when asked where the funding was, the Health Minister fobbed it off and claimed it was a matter for Treasury,” Mr Aldridge said.

“The Minister also confirmed the project definition plan for this project was being revised, which should be concerning for Kimberley residents who were hoping to see this service delivered so they could access renal dialysis closer to home.

“It’s disgraceful that more than three years after promising this project, we are still yet to see funding allocated towards it. Halls Creek has been forgotten by Labor.”

Mr Aldridge said the Laverton Hospital had also fared poorly in the State Budget, with $9 million in previously allocated funding pushed to 2025-26.

“Late last year, I raised concerns about the status of this project, which was fully funded by the former Liberal-National Government before being scrapped in 2017 by the new Health Minister, Roger Cook.

“This project has faced delay after delay, and the State Government has done very little to ensure this project is delivered in a timely manner.”

Long-awaiting funding for the Mullewa Hospital was also absent from the budget.

“Whilst the Minister confirmed this project would cost significantly more than the $6 million previously allocated towards it, the Government has refused to make extra funding available or provide a timeframe for the delivery of the new Mullewa Hospital.”

The Minister for Health confirmed that no new progress had been made regarding promised hospitals in Meekatharra and Tom Price.

“It’s shocking that years after coming to power off the back of their promises to build new hospitals in the Mid West and Pilbara, these projects have been pushed beyond the next State Election and construction will not even begin in this term of Government,” Mr Aldridge said.

Mr Aldridge said the language used by the Minister regarding these projects was also worrying.

“The Minister repeatedly told Parliament these five broken promises were incredibly challenging to deliver due to their remote locations, and that they needed to provide value for money for WA taxpayers,” he said.

“The provision of healthcare services in regional WA will always come at a much higher cost than similar services in the metropolitan region.

“It is a stain on any government who would prioritise value for money over the delivery of critical health services in in some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged regional communities.”

Mr Aldridge said not one of these five election commitments would commence, let alone see completion, in this term of Government.

“Labor’s failure to progress critical health projects in our regional areas is a damning indictment of a State Government which has seen over $22 billion in budget surpluses since coming to power in 2017 but failed to invest in our health system.”