Dismay over new city medical school

The failure of the National Party to deliver on their 2013 election commitment to deliver the Murray Darling Medical School for rural and regional communities was again highlighted today by the announcement of a capital investment of $32.5 million for a branch of the University of Newcastle medical school to be established in Gosford.

The announcement of this substantial capital commitment is at odds with assurances that the key impediment to announcing the new Murray Darling Medical School is the availability of capital funding.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said:

“We have consistently been told by the Government that they understand the importance of a rural medical school to address chronic shortages of doctors in our regional areas, but that the current fiscal environment prevents the capital investment that would be required.

I think the people of Bendigo and northern Victoria will now be asking why their needs are less important than people in Gosford and Perth”.

Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Vann said:

“There are doctor shortages in rural areas, not in the cities. This announcement will be met with dismay in rural NSW.

“Rural people feel that the safer their seats are, the less they get. The loyalty and trust rural people have shown to their elected members is not being repaid.”

The newly announced branch of the medical school will be located in the City of Gosford in the Liberal seat of Robertson (margin of 3.1%). The seat adjoins the Liberal seat of Dobell (notionally an ALP seat after redistribution with a margin of 0.2%). Gosford is located one and a half hours from five medical schools in Sydney, and a little over an hour from a medical school in Newcastle.

The Gosford announcement follows the decision of the Government to approve a new medical school in the City of Perth located in the Liberal seat of Hasluck (margin of 6.0%). There is already a medical school at the University of Western Australia located in Perth.

The Vice-Chancellors of Charles Sturt and La Trobe Universities will be stepping up their campaign on behalf of rural and regional communities to get the Nationals to honour the promise made to rural and regional communities to deliver the Murray Darling Medical School.

Media: Tim Mitchell 9479 5246 / 0437 457 780