I’ve followed the debate over the last few months about the ongoing management of the Mildura Base Hospital quite closely. Like many others, I believe that the hospital should be returned to public hands, but in my opinion who manages the hospital is not the main issue.
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As a general principle, I do not support the concept of the privatisation of community services and infrastructure, but since the late 1990s there has been a push by governments of all persuasions to privatise a whole range of things. There are many examples across Australia today that clearly show that the supposed benefits of privatisation have never been realised and never will be.

In my view, privatisation of community services and infrastructure is simply a means whereby governments can abrogate their responsibilities to taxpayers by “passing the buck”. Private companies, over-paid executives and shareholders may have benefited from privatisation, but certainly not the average citizen. I could go on for some time about the issue of privately managed community services, but that’s not the purpose of my letter.

In my opinion, the real issue with regard to the Mildura Base Hospital is not whether it is managed by a private company, or returns to government control, but of the facility itself. The Mildura Base Hospital is a disaster that was foisted on the people of Mildura and district by a government hell-bent on privatising everything.

From the beginning, the hospital was never big enough, it was poorly designed and badly sited. We now have a hospital which after a relatively short period of time is totally unsuitable to the needs of this community. It was built on a shoestring budget with apparently no thought to the future growth of the Sunraysia district and as a result, regardless of who manages the hospital into the future, it will remain totally unsuitable to the community’s needs.

I should point out that in making these comments I’m not being critical of the staff at the MBH as I have the greatest respect for them. I think that they should be congratulated for their efforts in delivering quality care and services to the people of Sunraysia in a facility that is totally inadequate for the purpose for which it was supposedly built. How they work in the place is beyond me!

So what is the answer to our dilemma? If you follow my argument, the only answer is a totally new hospital, built with the future in mind and in a location that would enable it to be expanded as the need arises.

However, the only way that this can be achieved, in my opinion, is to change the political dynamics of the Mildura region. In other words we have to marginalise both the state seat of Mildura and the federal seat of Mallee. What I’m saying is that the electors in this region have to change their voting patterns, at every election if necessary, if we are to have any hope of achieving the things we need and deserve.

It’s clear from the past that neither major party is going to improve hospital services to the region, or passenger rail services for that matter, because the coalition parties know that, under the current voting patterns, they will never lose the seats and Labor knows that they can never win them.

When Labor was in government in Victoria for a decade, did we get our passenger rail back? No because their was no electoral incentive for them to do so. I fear that the same fate will befall our hospital services if we don’t change our ways.

Robert Mutton,


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