Report by Sinclair Knight Merz on the Effects of Carbon Pricing on Victoria's Hospitals

Written on the 20 June 2012

I am pleased to a rise to speak on Mr Barber's motion. I note that Mr Leane was chomping at the bit to hear from Mr Finn on this issue, but I want to place a couple of points on the record because this is a significant issue for all Victorians. In particular it is a significant issue for health services. As Mr O'Donohue has pointed out, on numerous occasions the minister has made it clear that the report about the impact of a carbon tax on our health services will be released in due course.


As I said, it is a significant issue. I am not sure that Mr Leane understands how hospital services operate at their full capacity; it is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They provide significant service delivery that requires significant amounts of energy. As we all know, we need a reliable electricity supply. As Mr O'Donohue pointed out, and this was a point I was also going to make, with the recent floods in the Latrobe Valley, if the Hazelwood plant had not been in operation, or if it had been taken out as had been proposed, there would have been a significant risk to our overall electricity supply, and that would have had an impact on services such as health services.


It would have impacted on the delivery of health services to all Victorians. It is a significant issue and one that should be taken very seriously.


Some really alarming figures have been quoted. We know that the Monash Medical Centre, which services a lot of constituents in my area of Southern Metropolitan Region, feels that the carbon tax will have a $660 000 impost on its operations. That impacts enormously on the delivery of basic hospital care on a day-to-day basis, let alone on any elective surgery that may be undertaken by the facility. In Mr Leane's area of Eastern Metropolitan Region Box Hill Hospital is a very good hospital The impost on it will be somewhere in the vicinity of $250 000; that is just on the carbon tax alone. It is an additional impost that the facility which means that certain services will not be able to be provided to Mr Leane's constituents. It is a shame that Mr Leane is supporting such an imposition as the carbon tax and what it is going to do to various community and general health services.


I do not understand why we would send billions of dollars overseas for carbon credits. It is beyond me to know why that money should not be returned to our services here in this state. We need to look after Victorians, and there is every reason for providing support to services such as those provided by health institutions.


Significant demand is going to be placed on our health services, and an impost like this will mean slower rates of elective surgery; there is no doubt about that. The carbon tax will also impact upon ambulance services. It will impact on the throughput of our hospital services, and that is something that needs to be taken into consideration. It is a very significant aspect of this whole debate.


In relation to other issues referred to by Mr Barber's motion, as Mr O'Donohue said, Sinclair Knight Merz has undertaken a report.


It is a well-regarded organisation that has been commissioned by the Department of Health, and it has significant concerns about how this will play out across our health services in Victoria and how the compensation measures, which are not forthcoming from the federal government, will also impact on health services across the state. I have mentioned the ambulance service, but that are many other public health services that will be impacted upon by the carbon tax. They include community health centres and private hospitals. In addition to our very good public health system, private hospitals undertake an enormous amount of work in servicing Victorians across the board.


Not only will it put additional strain on our public health services but that will flow through to private health services, which are also going to be struggling with additional costs, and of course it will flow through to the patient. At the end of the day it is a tax, and it will flow through to consumers. In this instance the consumer is the patient.


Whether you are a public or private patient, the carbon tax will have an impact on whether you get your surgery on time, whether you are seen to and whether the equipment that is used to look after you in hospital will enable you to receive the care that you are entitled to.


I mentioned Monash Medical Centre in my electorate of Southern Metropolitan Region. The Alfred hospital is a significant hospital in Prahran that services many people from my electorate and right around the state. The Alfred hospital will also have to find an additional $700 000-odd just to pay for this tax. It is nonsensical in so many ways. To say that this is a non-issue and will not have an impact is misguided and -- --.


Hon. D. M. Davis -- Naive.


Ms CROZIER -- It is naive. I thank Mr Davis.


The cost will flow through to the end consumer. Although Mr Leane's contribution was short, it was fairly significant. I think he should understand the impost that various health services in his electorate of Eastern Metropolitan Region are going to experience. As Mr O'Donohue has said, the government will not be opposing Mr Barber's motion. As has been said on numerous occasions, the report will be released in due course.


Honourable members interjecting.


Ms CROZIER -- Mr Barber has asked when. It will be released in due course.


Mr Barber -- This is the last sitting week before the introduction of the carbon tax.


Ms CROZIER -- I know. How many days away is it?


Mr Barber -- 1 July.


Mr Finn -- Eleven days.


Ms CROZIER -- Eleven days. That is far too soon for Australians, and we all fear it. As I said at the outset, this is a significant issue. The government will not be opposing Mr Barber's motion. With those few words I will conclude my contribution. I am sure Mr Finn will have something further to say.

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