Federal funds locked in despite deficit

CASH pledged for a south-west integrated cancer care centre is safe, despite Treas-urer Joe Hockey reining in expenses due to Australia’s burgeoning deficit.

The federal government has committed $10 million towards the initiative spearheaded by Peter’s Project with a further $15 million already secured from the state government. A further $5 million is being generated through a region-wide fund-raising campaign.

Federal cash for the project has been included in the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) released by Mr Hockey on Tuesday, which also detailed a multi-billion-dollar deficit over the next four years.

Wannon MP Dan Tehan said the funding pledged during the federal election campaign was locked-in for the current financial year and would be delivered in full.

The then opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton made the commitment alongside Mr Tehan during the federal election campaign in August.

“It will be a wonderful Christmas present for the local community,” Mr Tehan said. 

“Obviously, the Abbott government has honoured our election commitment and it will be delivered in this financial year.

“An integrated cancer centre will be in the budget and that assurance allows Peter’s Project to start the planning process.” 

Peter’s Project founder Vicki Jellie said the government’s official reiteration was reassuring and gave added impetus to fund-raising efforts being undertaken throughout the south-west.

She said both the state and federal governments had provided a solid financial grounding for the centre.

“We’re very happy with how the federal government has supported Peter’s Project,” Mrs Jellie said. “I received a phone call from Dan Tehan’s office and they said the $10 million that was committed earlier is still there.”

Peter’s Project was officially launched in 2010 and secured its first substantial cash pledge two years later. 

State Health Minister David Davis committed $5 million towards the south-west initiative in April 2012, backed up by a further $10 million announced by Premier Denis Napthine earlier this year in the 2013 state budget.

Little cash was offered at a federal level until the Coalition’s commitment of $10 million at Warrnambool’s Lighthouse Theatre in August. Federal Labor did not match the commitment, although former health minister Tanya Plibersek met with Peter’s Project representatives last year. 

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