La­bor ‘min­is­ter in wait­ing’ vows to keep $10m prom­ise to hospi­tal, new trains on track

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY STEVE KELLY [email protected] ne­me­dia.com.au

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.

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