The Opposition promise of a cardiac unit for Fremantle hospital has turned into an exercise in shoddy politics.
Fremantle MLA and Construction Minister Jim McGinty said the costings of Opposition policies released yesterday showed a major shortfall in funding for the project.
"Their figures show that $2.2 million will be allocated in 1996-97 for the unit, but nothing will be allocated to cover operating costs," Mr McGinty said.
"In their own media statement on January 20, the Opposition said it would cost $2.65 million to run the unit. The Government's estimate is that this figure is more likely to be $4 million.
"But they have not allocated any money, which must mean either it will not be in operation by the end of their first term or Fremantle hospital will have to meet the cost from its own budget.
"The lack of funding and the extensive delay in giving effect to this promise add further weight to the Government's earlier claim that this is a cruel hoax perpetrated for the most base political reasons.
"In addition, the promise for the unit contradicts the Opposition's claimed concern to improve efficiency.
"The projected demand for cardiac surgery for 1996 is 1,700 cases per year, which is 200 cases less than the combined capacity of Royal Perth Hospital, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and the Mount Hospital.
"The introduction of a further unit will mean a loss of the economy of scale, not only for Fremantle but for the other existing units.
"These actions by the Opposition again call into question their whole approach for funding health in this State.
"All those who use or work in the State's health system have good reason to seriously question the Opposition's intentions for our health services.
"Based on false claims about the Grants Commission they say the public hospitals can stand a 13 per cent cut in their funding.
"They will not tell us which services will have funding reduced or be axed and to save the political skin of one of its members, they will ignore the advice of independent experts and promise a new cardiac unit and then provide no funds for its operation."