I rise to mention the record $185.7 million Brumby Labor government budget boost
for ambulance services, which will significantly increase access to vital
services in communities across Victoria. The two new medical helicopters, a proposed single statewide
ambulance service, and new or expanded ambulance services based in 59 towns and
suburbs across Victoria is a massive boost for health services. One of the
helicopters, to be based at Essendon Airport, is to transport ill and injured
babies, children and adults as part of a retrieval system. The other, to be
based at Warrnambool, will provide coverage to the south-west of Victoria.
I congratulate the Minister for Health in the other place for
driving and undertaking a much broader ambulance strategy and approach, and for
providing for a dedicated retrieval helicopter at Essendon, which gives the air
ambulance service the flexibility to make an enhanced air ambulance service to
the south-west a workable option, which will also include search and rescue
operations. I thank all those who have been involved, and I particularly thank
all those who have worked tirelessly on working out a solution. This is a real
testimony to lateral thinking.