Today’s belated announcement to award the tender for the construction of Bendigo Hospital to Lend Lease shows the Liberal/National Government has spent months playing politics at the expense of the Bendigo community, Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Jacinta Allan, said today.

Ms Allan, also Member for Bendigo East, said that the project was now running months behind schedule and the local community have been ignored while the Premier played political games.

Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins said the Government’s decision to go with Lend Lease was an embarrassing back down for the Napthine Government after fighting this matter in the Federal Court.

“The tender process for Bendigo Hospital has been drawn-out and caught up in legal wrangling due to the anti-worker Building Code introduced by the Liberal/National Government,” Ms Hutchins said.

“The Government attempted to ban Lend Lease from bidding for Government construction contracts because it claimed the company breached the Building Code by having an agreement with the workforce.

“This ban was made during the tender process for the Bendigo Hospital and has thrown the project into disarray resulting in delays for the community at a time when hospital waiting lists are at record highs.”
The recent Federal Court hearing on this issue revealed the Napthine Government ignored advice from senior public servants that the Government could be exposed to legal action by implementing the ban during the tender process.
“This process has been nothing short of a shambles and Mr Napthine has had to make an embarrassing back down,” Ms Allan said.
“The previous Labor Government funded a new hospital for Bendigo and construction was to have started by the end of 2012 and be completed by 2016.
“The Liberal/National Coalition agreed to the same timeline set down by Labor but walked away from this commitment to purse an industrial relations agenda.
“As the Minister for Regional Cities since 2010 Mr Napthine has failed to support vital investment in the states regions and has sat idly by when jobs have been lost and government services cut.
“Just yesterday Geelong suffered even more job losses and workers would have been employed on the Bendigo Hospital by now if Mr Napthine had his priorities right.”

Published on April 5, 2013