25/02/2010 - 00:00

Kids’ hospital gets private boost

25/02/2010 - 00:00

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THE state government has confirmed that Perth’s new $1 billion children’s hospital will be developed as a public private partnership, scotching political speculation to the contrary.

Kids’ hospital gets private boost

THE state government has confirmed that Perth’s new $1 billion children’s hospital will be developed as a public private partnership, scotching political speculation to the contrary.

The hospital project will be the state’s largest PPP to date, and is sure to be welcomed by banks and construction companies keen to participate in major infrastructure projects.

In recent weeks the state government has announced plans for several smaller PPP developments in the health, education, corrective services and utilities sectors.

The go-ahead for planning the new children’s hospital was announced by Premier Colin Barnett and Health Minister Kim Hames last weekend.

The government has provided $23 million for detailed planning works and expects construction to start in 2012.

The hospital, to be built in Nedlands next to the QEII medical centre, is due to be completed in 2015, one year later than Mr Barnett had promised at the last election.

“We promised to build a leading paediatric care and research facility under a public private partnership model and we are moving to ensure construction starts on time,” Mr Barnett said in a statement.

A spokesman for Mr Barnett confirmed that the facility would be developed as a PPP.

In addition, the project will include the development of two new multi-storey car parks, also under a PPP. They will increase the total number of bays on-site by 1,525, to 4,560 bays.

This project is one of the first major PPPs for WA, a state that has been slow to utilise the PPP model for major infrastructure projects.

That is starting to change, with Treasurer Troy Buswell recently announcing that expressions of interest would be sought this year for at least four such partnerships.

Mr Buswell added that the government would “actively pursue PPPs when they offer value-for-money and are in the public interest”.

The Labor Party and the powerful Liquor Hospitality & Miscellaneous Union have opposed PPPs, arguing that the involvement of the private sector in public healthcare will result in, among other things, poor patient care, poor staff conditions, and a profit-focused management.

This argument ignores the trend for Labor state governments across Australia to readily accept PPPs as appropriate mechanisms for delivery of infrastructure projects, including hospitals, and have achieved commercial and clinical success in doing so.

Supporters of PPPs argue that they provide an opportunity for the government to maximise value and utilise the expertise of the private sector in designing, financing, building and maintaining large infrastructure projects.

Projects such as the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne are notable examples of major hospital PPP projects in other states.

Recently, WA has also had PPP success on a slightly smaller scale, with the $195 million District Court.

The court was developed by the Western Liberty consortium, which was appointed by the former Labor government.

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