MORE money is being spent upfront on the Frankston Hospital redevelopment.
The state budget released last week confirmed that the cost of the project would be more than $1.118 billion. The state government said the redevelopment would cost $562 million when it was first announced in 2018.
The Times sent Frankston MP Paul Edbrooke questions asking what the extra funding would be used for. In response, a state government spokesperson said “we’re now delivering a much more significant hospital redevelopment that will deliver better health outcomes for families living in Melbourne’s southeast from day one.”
Last month a consortium signed on to deliver the project, which is a public-private partnership. The private Exemplar Health consortium will design, build, and finance facilities and maintenance at the site for the next 25 years, while Peninsula Health will deliver the clinical healthcare services (“Contract signed for huge hospital project” The Times 26/5/22). The state government insists that the cost of the project remains within approved funding across the 25-year period, with no additional cost to the taxpayer over the whole project term.
The budget papers read that the “scope” of the project had been expanded since it had become a public-private partnership. “This project is a public-private partnership where the upfront capital investment has resulted in additional scope and whole of life benefits while remaining within the project’s affordability benchmark,” the budget read. “The estimated completion date has been revised to 2025-26 to reflect the completion date of the new hospital tower by the end of 2025, with the redevelopment operational in early 2026 and remaining refurbishment and other works completed by 2027-28.”
The hospital project is expected to include construction of a multi-storey clinical services tower, more operating theatres, upgraded mental health, oncology, and maternity services, and a new car park. The state government will spend more than $215 million on the upgrade in the 2022/2023 financial year.
The state government’s 2022/2023 budget also included funding for another hospital project, upgrades at local schools, and for streetscape works. However, there was no funding allocated for the long-discussed extension of the Frankston line to Baxter, prompting fury from a local advocacy group which has been pushing for the project for years.
The Committee For Greater Frankston have been calling for funding to duplicate and electrify the Frankston line to Baxter, which has been projected to cost up to $1.5 billion (“Baxter extension hopes off the rails, The Times, 30/11/20). The committee’s CEO Ginevra Hosking said “politicians are after your vote this year at the federal election in May and in November at the Victorian election. When they ask for your vote, ask them where the bloody hell is our train?”
“The federal government’s $225 million for the Frankston rail extension remained on the table but the Victorian government continues to ignore the project. This budget has not added one cent towards fixing our region’s inadequate public transport network,” she said. “The budget was a perfect opportunity for the Andrews government to fund its half share of the minimum first stage requirement – a 5km single-track extension to Langwarrin with a new station at Monash University, and a 2000-space park and ride plus bus terminus for Mornington Peninsula commuters. Just $225 million was all we needed. Instead, Frankston again has received no infrastructure funding for the coming 12 months. It’s a disgrace.”
Money has been allocated for the planned conversion of Frankston Private Hospital into a public surgery centre. The budget papers read that $29 million has been set aside for the project, but noted that the “total estimated investment and full cash flows will be disclosed following the outcome of commercial negotiations regarding leasing Frankston Private Hospital.”
The state budget also contained $7.61 million for upgrades at Naranga School and $204,100 for upgrades at Frankston Primary School. Redevelopment works at Frankston Bowls Club will receive $500,000 in state government funding, and the upgrade of Ballam Park Athletic Club will receive $250,000.