MRI funding was a Labor election commitment: health minister

Federal health minister Peter Dutton has confirmed Mount Druitt Hospital won't be getting an MRI, similar to this one in Canberra. Picture: Jeffrey Chan, Canberra Times

Federal health minister Peter Dutton has confirmed Mount Druitt Hospital won't be getting an MRI, similar to this one in Canberra. Picture: Jeffrey Chan, Canberra Times

It has taken four months for federal health minister Peter Dutton to respond to Chifley MP Ed Husic and explain why allocated funding for a MRI machine at Mount Druitt was diverted elsewhere.

The Star exclusively revealed in earlier this year that Mr Husic had written to Mr Dutton to request a a face-to-face meeting to express the wishes of constituents who travel to Blacktown or Penrith for an MRI.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd allocated $6 million for an MRI at Mount Druitt prior to last year’s election after Mr Husic collected more than 4000 signatures.

The funding was later scrapped by the elected Coalition government.

Mr Dutton’s response finally arrived at Mr Husic’s office on June 5, which statedthe government won’t provide funding for Labor election commitments.

‘‘If Labor was serious about providing an MRI to the community, it would have provided for the community during its six years in government rather than a last minute commitment in the context of the last federal election,’’ Mr Dutton wrote.

‘‘As you know, the government has inherited an enormous debt and policy priorities will be considered within this context and any additional expenditure will be considered when it is responsible to do so.''

He added while the Commonwealth provides funding, the purchase of MRI equipment in public hospitals is a state government’s responsibility.

Mr Husic hit back at Mr Dutton’s claims this week.

“The minister is plain wrong when he says this was a Labor election commitment,’’ he said.

‘‘It was budgeted for prior to the election and was an official government decision. The MRI at Mount Druitt Hospital was part of $500 million worth of callous health sector cuts by the Coalition soon after it come into government. This is an embarrassing, politically-driven response from a Minister of the Crown to a pressing issue for this community and some four months after it was sent to him.’’

What do you think? Have your say at stmarysstar.com.au or join the conversation on the St Marys-Mt Druitt Star Facebook page.

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