MP wants reviews of Ann Nichol sale, Epworth deal

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: An image of the Epworth Geelong hospital.


THE sale of Ann Nichol House and a deal to deliver public hospital services at Waurn Ponds will be reviewed under the new Labor State Government, according to Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville.
Lisa Neville said she had written to the auditor general and ombudsman seeking investigations into Bellarine Community Health’s controversial sale process for Ann Nichol House, a Portarlington aged care facility.
The house was the last not-for-profit aged care facility on the Bellarine Peninsula when it was sold to Arcare amid widespread community opposition.
Ms Neville said she had also spoken to new Health Minister Jill Hennessy about the previous government’s arrangement to incorporate public health facilities into a private Epworth Hospital at Waurn Ponds.
“I have asked the Health Minister to have a look at the contract and arrangements and look at the deal that was done there. I don’t know we can do much about it but I do want greater transparency about that arrangement,” she said.
Earlier this year, while still in opposition, Ms Neville told the Independent “something stinks“ about the $50 million arrangement between Epworth Health and the government.
Ms Neville and fellow minister John Eren, who increased his margin for the seat of Lara, said challenges facing Avalon Airport would also be high on their agendas.
“We need to have a discussion with Tullamarine and see if there is a way of Avalon securing a place within the airport system,” Ms Neville said.
“We’ll also have a conversation with Jetstar because we don’t want to see anything happen there.”
Jetstar is widely tipped to abandon its Avalon base when an $11 million package to keep the beleaguered Qantas discount carrier at the airport runs out in April.
“It’s an urgent issue and the premier (Daniel Andrews) is aware of it and it’s on his agenda,” Ms Neville said.
Mr Eren said he had maintained constant dialogue with the airport while in opposition.
“We still have high hopes for it to be Victoria’s second international airport and we believe we can provide some assistance to ensure it does.
“There’s no politics involved because everyone wants it to happen but we want something more permanent than the arrangements so far.”


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