Health is approximately 28% of the total NSW budget and both sides have made some big spending commitments. Health is the portfolio that no matter how much a government spends it never seems to be enough. It’s like a black-hole for government spending.
Both sides have committed to major increases in the health workforce; for Labor it’s 5,500 more nurses, 1,500 more paramedics and, 2,240 more allied health and support workers.
Not to be outdone, the Government will add 5,000 nurses and 2,300 other front-line staff.
More front-line health professionals is a welcome investment, but what is missing in this debate is where are all these extra staff coming from? It’s fair to say, you don’t train a nurse overnight.
The other major commitments are in the area of investing in hospitals. The Government has committed a number of large-scale projects, including, but not limited to:
- $780 million for John Hunter Hospital
- $470 million for a new Maitland Hospital
- $619 million upgrade of the Westmead Children’s Hospital
- $750 million redevelopment of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
- $608 million of the Children’s Hospital at Randwick
Labor has taken a slightly different approach and has specifically targeted small country hospitals and multi-purpose services. This is part of a deliberate political strategy given the Government’s electoral problems in the bush. This includes, but it not limited to:
- $250 million for small country hospitals and multi-purpose services
- Moving to introduce mandated nurse ratios in public hospitals
- Six detoxification and rehabilitation clinics at a cost of $100 million
- $534 million for a new Tweed Valley Hospital
- $395 million to upgrade St George Hospital to give it the capacity to perform state of the art robotic precision surgery
In other commitments the Government has also committed to $21.7 million in a state-wide stroke telehealth service.
Where Will it be Won or Lost
If the pundits are to be believed the future of the Government rests in rural and regional NSW. After two disastrous by-elections that saw 20% plus swings and the loss of the seats of Wagga Wagga and Orange, regional NSW is ground zero for the Government.
The considered view is the ALP can win only 2-3 metro seats and is competitive in a number of regional seats but cannot win the 13 seats it needs to win majority Government.
For the Government if they lose 6 seats, they will lose their majority, with 47 seats required for a 1 seat majority.
So, the smart money at this stage is on a hung parliament and which party ends up with the most seats is probably best positioned to from a minority Government.
In what will be a likely return to the political limelight, Mark Latham, former ALP federal leader and former Liberal Democratic Party member, is most likely to be elected to the NSW Upper House as a One Nation MP.
As they say, what is old is new again!! Enjoy your Election Night.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jody Fassina is the Managing Director of Insight Strategy and has served as a strategic adviser to MedTech and pharmaceutical stakeholders.