Victoria’s Election Campaigns Focused on Hospital Waiting Lists

Victoria's elections are seeing an increasingly a return to traditional tactics. The Labour Party recently pledged an additional $1.5 billion for public hospitals, in order to shorten elective surgery waiting lists and to increase hospital staff. The following day was marked by the State Opposition producing figures that indicated hospital waiting lists are far longer than official figures have indicated.

The figures were purportedly obtained by Fairfax under the Freedom of Information law. Mr. Davis has used the data as evidence of the Labour Government's mismanagement of the health system.

The statistics show that hundreds of thousands of people are waiting for consultations, some of them for years. Some 40,000 Victorians are reportedly waiting for elective surgery. David Davis, health spokesman for the Opposition, has called these figures the `hidden waiting list', which he obtained from half of Victoria's main hospitals.

Mr. Davis claims that these hospitals alone have 67,000 people waiting for new appointments, and over 200,000 waiting for various outpatient appointments. Mr. Davis added that the situation is not improving.

Victoria Health Minister, Daniel Andrews countered that the Coalition has grossly manipulated hospital data in order to misrepresent the situation, and that the 200,000 figure is absolutely incorrect. Mr. Andrews accused the Coalition of "playing cheap politics rather than offering any real action to ensure more people have access to outpatient appointments".

The waiting list issue has occupied a salient position in the present elections. Victorian citizens will vote on November 27.