Hospital ‘key’ to economic recovery

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Ewen McRae

By Ewen McRae

A new Melton hospital would create thousands of jobs and inject millions into the local economy according to a new report.

West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance (WoMEDA) chair and former Premier Steve Bracks unveiled the report last week and strongly supported the timely delivery of the hospital.

According to the report, the hospital would add $300 million to the region’s economy annually and create 3825 ongoing jobs and 375 construction jobs.

The findings come as the need for job creation and economic stimulus becomes increasingly critical in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

“A new hospital in Melton will make an enormous difference in a post-pandemic economy, creating 3825 long term, diverse jobs and adding $300 million to the region’s economy every year,” Mr Bracks said.

“In addition, positioning the hospital within Melton’s Cobblebank Metropolitan Activity Centre will attract substantial investment in a range of industries and unlock the potential for 22,000 jobs.

“Developing this facility as a priority will help transform the City of Melton into a thriving precinct of state-wide importance.

“This is not just a Melton priority, it’s a Victorian priority that can lead economic recovery and alleviate pressure on existing hospitals.”

WoMEDA has recommended that the state government include land acquisition for the hospital in its upcoming budget, commence construction by 2022 and have the facility fully operational by 2026.

Employment figures outlined in the report show significant JobKeeper numbers representing 10 per cent of the Melton workforce, and adding to already high numbers of unemployed and disengaged workers locally, particularly young people.

According to the report, Melton’s need for a 250-bed hospital is set to double in the next 15 years.

Melton mayor Lara Carli said the report backed up the long-running grassroots campaign for the hospital and hoped to see the project moving forward at the next budget.

“To have WoMEDA validate the urgency to develop a Melton hospital and the need for more jobs is especially welcome right now,” Cr Carli said.

“The hospital will trigger major investment and jobs growth in justice, health, education, retail, recreation, and more.

“This is critically important in Melton where 80 per cent of our professional workforce leaves the municipality for work.

“It’s also exciting to see the Victorian government’s business case progressing and we hope the urgency to acquire land for the hospital can be recognised in the upcoming state budget.”