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Health Minister David Clark’s announcement on the Dunedin Hospital outpatient and day patients building will be welcomed by the South but the Minister needs to be reminded of his comments in Opposition, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“The announcement of the outpatient and day patients building is good news for the Southern region, but in reality the Minister’s ‘fast track’ is actually a managed delay of the entire project and smacks of hypocrisy.

“He was very vocal in Opposition about the rebuild, saying a completion date of 2027 was too slow. Now it appears the best case scenario for the completion of the larger inpatient building would be late 2028 and more likely into 2030, which is slower than the time frame the previous National-led Government had laid out.

“He has also previously said that it’s ‘really important the voice of the South is strong in the discussions’. However, this ‘voice’ has been restricted in recent months to include just two people, the rebuild chair and former Labour Minister Pete Hodgson and the Minister himself.

“The Minister must explain why decisions on this vital development and its business case have been made with absolutely zero engagement with the public. Phase one of the detailed business case was completed four months ago but the public has been left in the dark.

“There’s also no mention of what impact extending the project by three years or more will have on its cost and it’s already an eye-wateringly expensive project.

“While the longer time to completion will not be welcomed by locals, it may benefit local construction companies by allowing them to play a greater part in the project. Mr Hodgson had originally suggested the lead contractor for the rebuild would have to be an overseas company.

“The Minister seems to be desperately working to put a spade in the ground in the shortest possible time at the expense of the whole project and its time to completion. He has indicated that those spades will be in the ground in the second half of 2020, which will likely just happen to coincide with the next general election.”

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