Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Health, David Davis. The National Centre for Farmer Health based in Hamilton was established in 2008 after a significant contribution of $1 million was offered by the respected local philanthropist Mr Geoff Handbury. It also secured $2.4 million from the state government. In the recent state budget the minister’s government ceased the funding of the National Centre for Farmer Health, so my question is: what is the possible explanation for stopping the funding to this award-winning and internationally acclaimed centre, and does the minister know what the impact of this cessation of funding will have on the centre?
Hon. D. M. DAVIS (Minister for Health) — I thank the member for her question and indicate the government is aware of the importance of the centre for farmer health. I know the centre has done extremely good work for a number of governments around the country, not just the Victorian government, as is indicated by its name, the National Centre for Farmer Health. I note that the previous government failed to give it a secure funding source. It is without any long-term or ongoing funding. I have written to the commonwealth minister to seek a partnership for the funding of the national centre, and I have also written to my ministerial colleagues in other states and territories, because, as I indicated, this is a national centre.
It is a centre that does important work, and I have indicated very strongly that the government is prepared to work with other governments to put the national centre on a sustainable footing into the long term.
I indicate that the federal minister has responded to my correspondence in a positive manner and has indicated that there will be further dialogue on this matter. I have also indicated that I will seek to have this discussed at the next health ministers conference to ensure that the National Centre for Farmer Health is put on a sustainable footing that will guarantee it an ongoing place in contributing to farmer health and research around farmer health.
Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — What possible guarantees can this government give to local philanthropists that their money, commitment and time will not be trashed by this government?
Hon. D. M. DAVIS (Minister for Health) — I can indicate to Mr Handbury that the government is very respectful of his philanthropy efforts across western Victoria, whether that is the support that he has provided for GP and primary health care clinics, whether it is the support he has provided to a whole manner of other causes or importantly whether it is the support that he has provided generously and constructively to the National Centre for Farmer Health. I indicate that the government strongly supports the work that has been done and supports the contribution of Mr Handbury. We will seek to work with him, work with Deakin University and work with the relevant health services, but also importantly work with my state — —
An honourable member — Work with Sue Brumby?
Hon. D. M. DAVIS — Indeed, Sue Brumby. I have met Sue Brumby and had a very constructive conversation with Sue Brumby, who is a person I admire. I want to be quite clear — —
The PRESIDENT — Time!