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  • New Vic hospital as Labor raises stakes

    Author: AAP

Victorians in the state's east have been guaranteed a new hospital no matter who wins the upcoming state election, after Labor one-upped a coalition pledge.

Premier Daniel Andrews has promised up to $675 million for a new West Gippsland hospital if his government secures a third straight term in office in November.

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The project, long campaigned for by the local community, would be built on publicly-owned land in Drouin East, about 100km east of central Melbourne.

While detailed design work won't begin until next year, the new facility is expected to create 75 more beds than the current West Gippsland Hospital.

Mr Andrews said it would feature 223 beds and treatment spaces, more operating theatres, a helipad and a new birthing unit, along with a public-run 60-bed aged care facility.

Victorian Labor plans to fully fund the build, with construction to begin in 2024 and finish in 2028 before patients are admitted in 2029.

"This is a massive project, one of the biggest in country Victoria," the premier told reporters in Warragul on Monday.

"There's quite a baby boom going on across this community."

The population of Baw Baw Shire, which encompasses the towns of Drouin, Trafalgar and Warragul, is expected to grow from 56,595 people in 2022 to 84,766 by 2041.

In June, the Victorian coalition announced plans to spend $400 million and ask the federal government for $200 million to build a new $600 million hospital on the same site.

Mr Andrews said the government's promise has more components.

"They didn't mention the aged care. They didn't put a timeline on when they'd start and when they'd finish. They forgot the helipad," he said.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the premier was five years too late, with the coalition committing to the project before the 2018 election.

"He forgot the whole hospital," Mr Guy said.

The latest episode of the health bidding war came as Mr Guy pitched stationing 75 protective services officers in or around five major hospitals across Melbourne.

Under a two-year trial to curb attacks on staff, the PSOs would be based around the clock at or near the Royal Melbourne, Dandenong, Frankston, Box Hill and Sunshine hospitals.

A similar 2010 election promise from the Baillieu government was ditched after a parliamentary committee raised concerns the presence of armed guards in hospitals could increase violence rather than reduce it.

The police union has backed the proposal but the premier said Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton and hospitals have not asked for it.

Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier, who said she has faced occupational violence in her former life as a nurse, conceded none of the five hospitals were directly consulted.

But she did speak with the Australian Medical Association, Australian College of Nurse Practitioners and police union.

"(There are) thousands of incidents that are occurring each year ... this is a very serious issue," Ms Crozier said.

With early voting to open in under six weeks, the Victorian Electoral Commission has launched the first of three advertising campaigns to encourage residents to enrol, vote and sort fact from fiction.

"Elections can be won or lost on less than a dozen votes. Every vote really does count," Deputy Electoral Commissioner Dana Fleming said.


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