Auditor General Report: Energy Efficiency in the Health Sector

Written on the 10 October 2012

I am pleased to rise to speak on the Victorian Auditor-General's report of September 2012 titled Energy Efficiency in the Health Sector. I think the Auditor-General has made some very interesting remarks in this report, and the report has highlighted some of the issues that our health services are facing today and will face in years to come. I refer of course to certain impositions that are going to be made on the health sector, which the Auditor-General highlights, and I will turn to those in a moment.

 



The opening summary of the report states that:

 


Most metropolitan hospitals and some regional hospitals are large facilities that have high levels of energy use.

 


As we know, hospitals are highly energy intensive. They need medical equipment in relation to their operations, whether that be their emergency departments, operating theatres, intensive care units, everyday wards or outpatient departments. They use many different types of medical equipment, and there is also the sterilisation equipment, air conditioning and all manner of energy-intensive issues that health services, particularly large hospitals, have to cater for.

 


Mr O'Brien -- A great big tax on them all.

 


Ms CROZIER -- I am going to get to the great big tax on them all in a minute. Mr O'Brien is quite right, and the Auditor-General also highlights what an imposition it will be. In addition some of the private health services also undertake services such as laundry facilities. Laundry, as we all know from our home lives with washing machines and dryers, is incredibly energy intensive.

 


The carbon tax is going to have an enormous impact on this ever-increasing cost.
 

 

The carbon tax, as Mr O'Brien highlighted, is an economy-wide tax that will hurt not only consumers and businesses -- and workers in those businesses will ultimately suffer various consequences -- but also government, government departments and the delivery of services such as health services.
 

 

The report says that the Department of Health has estimated that the total impact of the carbon pricing mechanism on health services and expenditure will exceed $13 million in 2013 -- that is next year -- increasing each year until it reaches nearly $19 million in 2020. The cost will be around $132 million in total. That is an enormous impost on not only the health services but ultimately the Victorian taxpayer who has to fund those health services. I think that is an extraordinary impost.

 

 

I know that various members have talked about the impacts of carbon pricing and carbon tax on various aspects of our everyday life, but this is one extremely important area that I do not think governments at any level can overlook.

 


As the Minister for Health has said on a number of occasions, the federal government is doing absolutely nothing to recognise or compensate those Victorian health services that are protecting, ultimately, the Victorian patient. I think what it is doing to Victorian patients is an absolute slight on the part of the federal government.
 

 

A letter to the Auditor-General from the Secretary of the Department of Health makes note that the 'scale of the program for health' is significantly greater than for any other government portfolio area and that the implementation of any health efficiency will be extremely complex.
 

 

We all want to be as efficient as we can be, especially when it includes cost savings, but as I said at the outset, this is a very energy-intensive sector. There are enormous services that apply across the board to Victorian patients. Victorian patients will ultimately pay the price because the millions of dollars that are going into that carbon tax are dollars that are not being put into hospital beds, outpatient services, medical equipment or the recruiting of nurses, doctors and other health professionals. Therefore the Victorian patient will be the one who will ultimately suffer.
 

 

In conclusion I would like to applaud the Victorian Auditor-General for highlighting the issues in relation to energy efficiency in the health sector and once again implore those at a federal level to reconsider the enormous impost that a carbon tax is going to put on the Victorian patient.


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