Labor ‘minister in waiting’ vows to keep $10m promise to hospital, new trains on track
IMPENDING state MP Jaclyn Symes has confirmed the Labor Party will keep its promise to fund $10 million to Wangaratta’s public hospital no matter what the result of her election.
Ms Symes will become Minister for Regional Development, Agriculture and Resources if she is re-elected as MP for the upper house Northern Victoria region - but the result might not be known for another 12 days. She told the Wangaratta
Chronicle yesterday that the the $10 million - promised by Premier Daniel Andrews while visiting Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW) during the election campaign - will be honoured, and fund stage three of NHW’s build- ing development, a figure that will add to the $22 million already delivered.
Stage three will include a desperately needed makeover of the Maternity Unit, including more beds and a new Special Care Nursery.
NHW will also be able to make changes within the Emergency Department to best support the growth in activity (25,546 patients in 2017/18), additional to the new 8-bed Short Stay Unit that’s part of the existing $22m funding.
Ms Symes also re-confirmed that the new VLocity trains for the North East rail line will be rolled out as soon as the $235 million upgrade works to the tracks are completed, expected by mid-2021.
She said design and construction of the new standard gauge bogies for the VLocity trains has commenced.
Ms Symes will also be Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council if she holds onto her spot, under roles announced yesterday at the swearing in of the Andrews Government’s new Cabinet, which will be made up of 50 per cent women.
She told the Chronicle that her time as an MP over the last four years has been rewarding in that she could carry out a role to bring the best she can for constituents.
“My role has always been for the people who elected me and I have sat next to Jaala Pulford (former Minister for Regional Development) over the last four years and she has been my mentor,” Ms Symes said.
“I am rapt that I will be given this portfolio if elected as it means I will be able to spend as much time in country Victoria as possible if elected.
“Most of the funding announcements I’ve been associated with during the last term have been around regional development and examples such as the $2.5 million for the Wangaratta Railway Precinct and tourism development for the King Valley regional have been notable.
“These are developments and initiatives that ultimately create jobs for local people and hopefully when I take on the role of minister I can continue this over the next term of government.”
It will not be known if Ms Symes is elected until December 11 due to the lengthy nature of counting the redistribution of votes, and Ms Pulford and Treasurer Tim Pallas will cover her pending portfolio during this time.
PROMISES WILL BE HONOURED: Jaclyn Symes, hoping to be be confirmed as a re-eelcted Labor MP, and minister, says the government is good for its word.
MONEY BUS: Premier Daniel Andrews and his wife Catherine were greeted by Northeast Health Wangaratta chief executive officer Margaret Bennett when they stepped off the bus at the $10 million announcement in October.