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La Trobe ... Austin& Repat. ... Berwick ... Knox
 The many extracts on these pages are from copyright material. they are owned by the reference given or its owner. They are reproduced here for educational purposes and to stimulate public debate about the provision of health and aged care. I consider this to be "fair use" in the common interest. They should not be reproduced for commercial purposes. The material is selective and I have not included denials and explanations. I am not claiming that all of the allegations are true. The intention is to show the general thrust of corporate practices as well as the nature and extent of any allegations made.

Austin and Repatriation Privatisation
References and extracts


Going Public, The Age (Melbourne) September 8, 2000
The Austin began life as an asylum for incurables in 1882 when widower Elizabeth Austin donated 7000 pounds to set up a hospital in the then wilds of Heidelberg.

It did not become a general hospital until 1960 and it was not until 1965 that it became a teaching hospital with affiliation with the University of Melbourne and the appointment of its first professors.

In 1988 the Austin took over the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre and later regional psychiatric services. In 1995 it merged with the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and was renamed the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre.

By then, it was evident that the Austin complex, which included nine research institutes, was creaking at the seams and the Kennett government began talking of a revamp.

The government announced in 1996, after the opposition leaked the news, that it would seek bids from the private sector to build, own and operate a redeveloped Austin.


Mayne Player Plans Hospital Spree, Australian Financial Review 10/18/1997
Other projects likely to be put out to tender this financial year in Victoria include the development of the Berwick Hospital, the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre in February, Knox Private Hospital and the privatisation of Mildura Base Hospital.
In tandem with today's interim profit announcement, Mayne Nickless revealed it had formed a 50/50 joint venture with Ramsay Health Care to bid for the contract to build, own and operate the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre in Melbourne.

Elderly fight for Austin Hospital, The Age, Saturday, 29 Nov 1997
Les and Dorothy Irving are not your regular protesters but the elderly couple felt compelled yesterday to register anger and concern about the State Government's plan to privatise their local hospital, the Austin.

Austin Bidders Shortlisted, The Age (Melbourne) January 9, 1999
Three bidders have been shortlisted for the privatisation of the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre despite a consultant's report warning that a private operator would unlikely make a profit without further staff cuts and Government assistance.

The Health Minister, Mr Rob Knowles, yesterday announced that Health Care of Australia with the Inner and Eastern health care network, Ramsay Health Care Limited and the Sisters of Charity Health Services Alliance would be asked to make final bids. The Austin shortlist was due to be announced last September.

The Age reported two weeks ago that a report by the accountancy firm KPMG, dated June 1997 and commissioned by the now-defunct North Eastern Health Care Network, questioned the suitability of a private company operating a public hospital.

The same day the American nursing home giant Sun Healthcare withdrew its bid for the Mildura hospital after the State Opposition revealed it faced investigation in the United States over alleged criminal violations. Sun was the main shareholder in the Australian-based preferred bidder for the Mildura hospital, the Alpha Healthcare consortium.

With the Austin, it is the first time a government has attempted privatising a metropolitan teaching hospital. Issues such as protecting non-profit-making activities such as teaching, education and research have been harder to resolve than expected.
The Opposition health spokesman, Mr John Thwaites, said the KPMG report made it clear that control of Victoria's second largest hospital should not be given to a private operator because it would be impossible to protect non-profitable areas such as teaching, research and the care of the chronically ill.

Austin Selling Assets To Pay Wages, Says Labor, The Age (Melbourne) January 21, 1999
The cash-strapped Austin Repatriation Medical Centre is selling assets to cover normal operating costs, the State Opposition said yesterday.

Banyule Council, which last month learned the hospital planned to sell its multi-storey car park, has condemned the move, arguing the Government is responsible for ensuring the hospital has adequate funds.
The hospital planned to lease the car park back until the Austin's planned redevelopment by a private operator.
Cr Brooks (Banyule Council Mayor) said the rezoning application should have gone to the council but the hospital was obviously embarrassed at having to sell assets to prop up operating costs and went directly to the State Government.
A spokeswoman for the Health Minister, Mr Rob Knowles, said yesterday it was up to the hospital how it handled its affairs and it was no secret that it had considerable financial problems.

Pledge To Reform Hospital Funding, The Age (Melbourne) February 19, 1999
It (State labour party) would also put a stop to a new Austin Repatriation Centre and hospitals in the growth belts of Berwick and Knox, which are to be privately built for public patients, he said.

MAYNE NICKLESS LIMITED Forms Joint Venture with Ramsay Health Care, Australian Stock Exchange on 24 Feb 1999
- - - - formed a 50:50 joint venture to bid with the Inner and Eastern Health Care Network for the contract to build, own and operate the new Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre in Heidelberg, Melbourne.

The Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre is one of Melbourne's premier tertiary acute teaching and research hospitals which the Victorian Government is seeking to fully redevelop through private sector involvement.

Two of Australia's largest private health care groups Mayne Nickless
(ASX:MAY) and Ramsay Health Care (ASX:RHC) today announced that they had formed a 50:50 joint venture to bid with the Inner and Eastern Health Care Network for the contract to build, own and operate the new Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre in Heidelberg, Melbourne.

The Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre is one of Melbourne's premier tertiary acute teaching and research hospitals which the Victorian Government is seeking to fully redevelop through private sector involvement.
The Inner and Eastern Health Care Network will also participate in the bid as a non-equity partner with Mayne Nickless and Ramsay Health Care. It will bring a high level of expertise in tertiary hospital management and specialised clinical care, medical research, teaching and training.

Rivals Link For Hospital Project, Australian Financial Review 02/25/1999
Mayne's Health Care of Australia and Ramsay Health Care were originally short-listed separately as bidders to build, own and operate Melbourne's new Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre, along with the Sisters of Charity who run the city's St Vincent's hospital.
The Victorian Government's Inner and Eastern Health Care Network - Melbourne's biggest public health services provider - will also participate in the HCoA/Ramsay Health Care bid as a non-equity partner.

The Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre - - - has about 200 staff, 750 beds and turnover of $320 million.

Big Two Join In Bid For Austin Job, The Age (Melbourne) February 25, 1999
Details about the bid were scarce as the Victorian Government was not scheduled to release the project brief until April.

Tribunal Orders Release Of Austin Documents, The Age (Melbourne) May 14, 1999
The State Government has lost another round in its battle to keep secret financial details of the privatisation of the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal has ordered the release of the total contents of two documents, one a report by consultants KPMG and the other a submission by the former health network that ran the the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre.

The Opposition's health spokesman, Mr John Thwaites, last year won access to the reports but key sections highlighting projected staff cuts and the cost of running the hospital were blanked out by the Department of Human Services.

Both reports cast doubts on whether Australia's private hospital operators have the balance sheet capacity to run the Austin Repat.
The hospital and the department argued in the tribunal against the release of the information, claiming that not only would it damage the bidding process but it would have a substantial adverse effect on the economy of Victoria''.
These documents, which were prepared by the Government's own health care network, criticised the privatisation, and the Government doesn't want this made public in an election year,'' he (Thwaites) said.
Mr Davis said the hospital had failed to show there would be a detrimental impact on the state economy.

ALP Hits At Hospital Secrecy The Age (Melbourne) May 26, 1999
The State Government was accused of obsessive secrecy yesterday for overriding the Austin Hospital's legal advice to release two sensitive reports on privatisation.
Parliament was told yesterday that the hospital's legal advice was not to challenge the tribunal's decision as it would be unsuccessful, but the State Government has pushed ahead with a Supreme Court appeal.
Both reports cast doubt on whether the private sector would have the financial capacity to run the Austin Repat.

Labor's health spokesman, Mr John Thwaites, said the Government's pressure on the Austin to challenge the decision showed it was desperate to keep privatisation details secret until after the next election.
The Premier, Mr Jeff Kennett, yesterday defended the Supreme Court appeal as a necessary and normal part of business to provide financial confidentiality to private investors.

Critical Condition The Age (Melbourne) May 31, 1999
To experienced doctors like Associate Professor Crotty, patient care, teaching and research are inseparable, a trinity that is the soul of the Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre.
The question is: Should the new teaching hospital be run by a private operator whose prime motivation is profit and whose responsibility is to shareholders?
But no one in the world has risked putting a public teaching hospital, with its high-cost, low-return services, into the hands of a for-profit operator. The Austin privatisation is a bold and controversial ideological experiment.

The project, estimated at more than $300million, involves building at the old Repatriation Hospital a kilometre away, a new 600 to 800-bed hospital, accommodating nine research institutes, relocating Larundel's psychiatric services and the Mercy Hospital for Women (and possibly the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre), and probably building a new private hospital.
Unlike some of his colleagues, who are gagged by confidentiality agreements, he (Professor Colin Johnston) is unafraid to speak his mind. He views the hospital's privatisation with trepidation, believing a for-profit owner's main responsibility is to shareholders.

It would be difficult to see how they would underwrite the infrastructure for teaching, research and training,'' he said. That's basically what these sorts of hospitals are about. They are not really about looking after patients, they are about looking after specialised patients and developing new techniques. A lot of it is to do with teaching, training and research. It is difficult to see who is going to fund that.''

The University of Melbourne's medical faculty, which sends 70 to 80 students to the campus each year, is so concerned about the future of teaching under a private owner it has sought a veto power over the contract between the Government and the operator should teaching suffer.

Troubling academics, researchers and doctors is that many of the core activities of a teaching hospital do not make money. While the Sisters of Charity are seen to have a good track record in teaching and research at St Vincents, the A&R Consortium's experience is with private, not public, hospitals. The consortium, or its partners, may one day be potential takeover targets for overseas operators.

Exacerbating the fears of some staff is the privatisation process itself. Hospital-based committees, working with others established by the infrastructure investment unit - a secretive, separate body within the Department of Human Services - are itemising equipment and services in a project brief for the bidders.

For many staff, the past few months have been highly frustrating. Having meticulously collated their research projects and clinical services in thick technical documents, they have been shocked to find them reduced to half-page summaries by indifferent infrastructure unit staff.

Throughout the hospital, things have been built up over decades with passion and love and that will be tossed aside,'' one researcher said. Do they know even a tenth of what they have put at risk? Maybe all that we fought for with the toecutters over the years will be lost.''
Strict confidentiality and probity agreements have prevented senior staff from publicly expressing their concerns. Many told The Age they feared they would lose their jobs if they made a noise.

Mr Knowles has assured anyone who will listen that teaching and research and even unprofitable clinical services would be enhanced under a private operator. Binding contracts would ensure these were delivered, unlike the present system where there was little accountability for how money was spent.
But will hard-nosed businessmen buy the trinity-is-but-one line? Dr Barry Catchlove, an executive with Health Care of Australia, which is a consortium partner, said it was vital to identify the true cost of research. Research grants, from such bodies as the National Health & Medical Research Council, do not cover costs and hospitals have to provide offices, phones, secretaries and other infrastructure.
There are nine research institutes attached to hospital and clinical departments which conduct their own investigations, usually directly on patients. Within these departments, specialist physicians and surgeons can devote up to 25 per cent of their time on research.

Almost 600 full and part-time staff work at the research institutes. Their equipment, from test tubes to state-of-the-art scanners, is worth about $ 27million. Antibody production, clinical and research laboratories and other integrated research activities raise about $25million a year.

The key research bodies are the Austin Research Institute and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.
The Ludwig Institute is one of a network of branches in seven countries, employing some 600 scientists and has spent about $500million world-wide on research, mainly into the fine details of cancer cells.

In Melbourne, the Ludwig's links to both hospital and Melbourne University are extensive.
The Ludwig's charter prevents it using its discoveries to make money. What it does make is ploughed back into research. Such a philosophy seems irreconcilable with one that aims to make profits from health care.

With the State Government paying for its move into new premises, the Ludwig has agreed it can continue in Melbourne, as long as it deals with an entity which will separate it from a private operator. Without these commitments, said the director of the Ludwig's Melbourne branch, Professor Tony Burgess, it would be extremely difficult for us to operate''.
But staff remain wary. A private operator may feel it's more important to have a television celebrity come and hold the hand of a patient than having a research institute,'' one sceptical researcher said.

Concerns about the future don't stop at big-ticket items. Often, it's the little things that matter most. How much is the Buddhist monk who works in the cancer centre worth? How do you put a dollar value on the drinks trolley that offers cancer patients a sherry before dinner each night?
Some bureaucrats in the Department of Human Services believe the project is too big and ambitious. They don't think it will go ahead, despite the Kennett Government's record of making things happen.
No one doubts the Government's commitment to the project, probably its most audacious privatisation to date. After the health care network that ran the Austin hospital questioned the Government's model for privatisation, the network was axed. A report the network commissioned from consultants KPMG and which cast doubts on the private sector's capacity to run the hospital has been discredited by ministers and senior bureaucrats at every turn.

Meanwhile, the pro-privatisation Inner and Eastern Health Care Network has joined a private consortium bidding for the project. The Inner and Eastern network is headed by privatisation champions Mr Graeme Samuel and Mr Simon Blair.

(Note Graeme Samuel is chairman of the federal National Competition Council and his views expressed in a speech to the world bank can be accessed on this web site. CLICK HERE)

Mr Knowles says the Inner and Eastern network is acting as a consultant to the consortium partners, utilising its experience in running the Alfred Hospital. He denies asking the network to join the bid.

To eminent observers like Professor Colin Johnston, that explanation is ludicrous. It's the biggest conflict of interest I have ever seen,'' he said. If you go and speak to the people at the Alfred, they don't want it and they don't want to come out here. They are totally opposed to that - they've never heard about it, actually. They weren't consulted. It's (experience) not vested in Graeme Samuel and Blair, it's vested in the staff whom they haven't consulted.''

What the Sisters of Charity think about an arm of government joining an opposing bid is unclear. They are not talking. But the charity's own future in hospital care is shaky. Rumors suggest the Treasurer, Mr Alan Stockdale, and Mr Samuel strongly oppose the Catholic bid, believing a charity would not represent true privatisation.

The tender outcome may determine, at last, the future of St Vincents, which has been under pressure since 1996 when it fought off government attempts to move it to Knox.

Cost Blowout Hits Austin, The Age (Melbourne) May 31, 1999
The State Government's ambitious plan for the world's first privatisation of a major public teaching hospital at the Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre has been hit by huge cost blowouts and long delays.

An Insight investigation found that the likely cost of building what will be Melbourne's largest hospital complex has jumped from $150 million when it was announced in 1997 to between $300 million and $350 million.

The project is nine months behind schedule, with the project brief - the blueprint which describes the health services to be provided by the new operator - now due in late July. Bidders originally were told to expect the document last October.

Meanwhile, joint industrial action by all health and maintenance unions at the Austin begins this morning after the Government failed to guarantee the 4000 staff that their jobs and financial entitlements would be protected under a private operator.
It is believed the scope and complexity of the project were underestimated by the Government, in particular problems associated with protecting the hospital's internationally renowned research and its medical training.
It is believed that the University of Melbourne, which has extensive teaching and research links with the Austin, has demanded a guaranteed veto over the private operator if it is unhappy with the training its medical students receive. It is doubtful whether a potential buyer would agree to hand such control to the university.
Privately run teaching hospitals operate overseas, but are usually owned by charities or universities. If the A & R Consortium wins, it could be the first teaching hospital anywhere run on a for-profit basis.
The Health Minister, Mr Rob Knowles, told The Age the Government had embarked on its unique hospital privatisation program because it believed the private sector could build, own and operate the public system for less.
Privatisation of public hospitals is a huge con because the public is effectively paying all the costs of building and operating the new hospitals over 20 years, but then handing them over to the private sector,'' Mr Thwaites said.

He said that private polling indicated that the public was overwhelmingly opposed to hospital privatisation.

The redevelopment, on the site of the old Repatriation Hospital in Heidelberg, will include a big new public hospital, facilities for nine research institutes, a private hospital, a retail precinct, a 3000 to 4000-space car park, a new building for the relocated Mercy Hospital for Women and a new psychiatric unit. The future of the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre, which the Austin manages, is yet to be decided.

Senior figures in Melbourne's medical community told The Age they were deeply concerned about the future of non-profitable areas like clinical and laboratory research and specialist units like liver transplant, spinal, and epilepsy.

It is understood the paediatric unit at the Austin has already been targeted by Human Services Department bureaucrats as non viable''.

The Austin's most senior staff, including internationally respected researchers, are muzzled by confidentiality agreements that stop them talking publicly about the privatisation. Breaking the agreement could lead to a law suit by the State Government..

Everyone is threatened with the most dire actions ... it's typical of the Kennett Health Department,'' says a senior member of one of the 11 committees established to work on the hospital privatisation.
One of the reports, by the now defunct North-Eastern Health Care Network, concluded that none of Australia's private hospital operators had the balance sheet capacity to run the Austin. It strongly recommended against a private operator running the hospital. Soon after the report was sent to the department, the network was disbanded.

Insight also found that senior medical staff, consultants and some Department of Human Services bureaucrats oppose the privatisation of the hospital.

It's a battle between the Treasury ideologues and the health bureaucrats,'' one said.

A member of the Government's own steering committee, which oversees the project, described it as doomed'' and said the calibre of people working on it was questionable.'' Crucial information needed by committee members to make informed decisions was routinely withheld.

Putting The Austin At Risk, The Age (Melbourne) June 1, 1999
WHY is the State Government privatising the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre? There have been sound reasons for the privatisation of public utilities such as the gas and electricity industries, but they fall into quite a different category from the Austin, a large public teaching hospital of world renown. Privatising gas and electricity involved big asset sales. Those sales allowed the Government to pay off large amounts of state debt. And in theory, at least, privatisation offered the prospect of cheaper energy than would have been achieved under the old system. But the Government has so far failed to offer any convincing argument that the privatisation of the Austin would bring clear public benefits. The potential dangers associated with the move, however, are clear - and serious.

Would an operator whose main motive was to make a profit maintain - let alone actively support - crucial functions of the hospital that are a drain on funds, such as research and training? If the standards of research and training fell, would senior doctors abandon the hospital, destroying an important and productive base of knowledge and skill? And would the privatisation undermine medical ethics, patient access and patient care? The Opposition has suggested that a private operator might be tempted to manipulate patient waiting lists to favor profitable cases. Doctors are worried that specialist programs such as the liver transplant or spinal units might have no future under privatisation; the hospital's paediatric unit has reportedly been targeted as non-viable'' already.

These concerns would be lessened if the hospital were to pass into the hands of the only not-for-profit bidder for the hospital, the Sisters of Charity, a Catholic order of nuns. By its nature the order is committed to the welfare of patients and staff, not to shareholders or profits. The order is also an experienced manager of large public teaching hospitals, including St Vincent's. But it is rumored that the Treasurer, Mr Alan Stockdale, and other key figures strongly oppose the Catholic bid on the basis that selling to a charity would not represent true privatisation. This suggests a preoccupation with ideology rather than outcomes.

The privatisation would be a great leap into the unknown. We know of no other large public teaching hospital in the world that has been commercialised. While America has big teaching hospitals that are private, most are not set up to make profits. They are owned by philanthropic foundations and their primary goal is to maximise the public good. The Government argues that private operators could run hospital services more cheaply but has not provided evidence of this. In fact, in the project to date, costs have already blown out, with the estimated cost of building the new hospital doubling to $300 million.

Then there is the issue of commercial confidentiality, which the Government has used to shield the performance of other privatised operations, such as prisons. Austin doctors say they have already been gagged by confidentiality agreements. Publicly funded hospitals must remain open to public scrutiny; their market'' is large, captive and vulnerable. The community should not relinquish the responsibility to ensure appropriate care in favor of the lesser goal of protecting commercial competitiveness.

Given the potential problems, the Government needs to provide compelling evidence that this is the right path for Victoria to pursue.

Surgery Target Of Union Action, The Age (Melbourne) July 13, 1999
A separate dispute at the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre, over the State's refusal to guarantee superannuation entitlements after privatisation, enters its 12th day today. Action by health unions, including the Australian Nursing Federation, will have caused the cancellation of more than 360 electivesurgery operations by Wednesday.

Mercy Splits From Tender, The Age (Melbourne) September 8, 1999
The Mercy Hospital for Women has split from the $300 million Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre tender and will build its own hospital at Heidelberg.

The split follows the Mercy's frustration over delays of almost 12 months in completing the new medical complex's project brief. - - - - - - There will be two separate projects on the same site.''
The Victorian president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Michael Sedgley, yesterday said that doctors wanted guarantees that patients who required expensive care would not be discriminated against by a for-profit operator. Such patients included the elderly and chronically ill.

Medical staff want the Government to appoint an independent ombudsman to deal with patient care issues arising from privatisation.
The Opposition leader, Mr John Thwaites, said with a privatised public hospital the interests of shareholders would be put above the interests of patients.

Mr Thwaites said building was supposed to have started in 1997 and the project was running at least four years behind schedule.
Medical staff are concerned that the Government is planning to reduce the number of patients treated at the new hospital. They have demanded guarantees on the number of medical and surgical procedures to be performed.

Mr Knowles said the hospital "will be at least the same size''.

Labor To Cancel Austin Hospital Privatisation, The Age (Melbourne) October 28, 1999
The controversial privatisation of the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre is to be cancelled.

The Health Minister, Mr John Thwaites, is expected to announce the decision at the hospital today and assure staff that the Austin will remain in public hands, with its full range of services, teaching and research intact.
Last Friday the hospital's chief executive officer, Ms Jennifer Williams, said in a staff memo that she believed privatisation would not proceed after the election of the Labor Government.

But she told staff it was good news for us''.

Most hospital staff were opposed to privatisation because they feared it would be virtually impossible to safeguard teaching, research and a full range of services under a for-profit operator.
The Kennett Government merged the Austin and Repatriation hospitals, the Royal Talbot rehabilitation centre and psychiatric services at Larundel in November 1997 and renamed it as a prelude to privatising the new entity.

The privatised Austin was to comprise a new hospital built on the old Repatriation site in Heidelberg and include the Mercy moving from East Melbourne.

BRIEFS :: Austin staff cheer at minister's visit, The Age (Melbourne) October 29, 1999
More than 500 Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre staff yesterday clapped and cheered after the Health Minister, Mr John Thwaites, announced that the privatisation of the hospital was cancelled.

The hospital's chief executive officer, Ms Jennifer Williams, who had been installed to prepare the hospital for sale, agreed to Mr Thwaites' request to stay on to supervise the rebuilding of the Austin as a public hospital. He said a steering committee would report back to him within four months on the best options for the hospital.

Going Private Was Hard To Swallow, The Age (Melbourne), November 20, 1999
Most of the Austin staff on the hospital's steering committee and working parties opposed the privatisation they were working towards. Still, they tried to minimise the potential damage they feared a private operator could bring - above all, inadequate funding of activities that didn't make money, such as research, training and the treatment of some patients.
As a medical centre, we all felt very, very anxious about that ... We as medical staff did not have any say (in the decision to privatise). That was dished up to us.''
But Labor's redevelopment budget for the Austin is only $155 million. As one staff member remarked, Blind Freddy could see that this was not going to finance the green fields'' option. Still, staff remain optimistic a viable solution will be found.

The change of plans will also affect St Vincent's Hospital and the Hospital for Women. They were to move in with the medical centre as part of the redevelopment. St Vincent's preferred option is to remain at its current location in the city as a teaching hospital.

But the Mercy Hospital for Women is still keen to move as quickly as possible into the Austin redevelopment after five years of being mucked around'', says the group chief executive officer of Mercy Health and Aged Care, Shane Solomon. He is confident he will get his move and get it quicker - despite the delay - than if the legalistic, consultant-heavy and complicated privatisation process had kept inching along.

I believe that the public teaching hospitals are the centrepiece of acute health, and if they're not supported by the Government it's a bad recipe,'' says the director of anaesthesia at the Austin, Dr Larry McNichol.

To have what is potentially the biggest teaching hospital (in Victoria) outside Government hands was always a scary experiment.''

The possibility of privatisation had put staff under a cloud of gloom, uncertainty and pessimism, he (director of anaesthesia) said. People didn't know whether they could believe the Government's promises that patient treatment, teaching and research would not be affected.

Going Public, The Age (Melbourne) September 8, 2000
Last week Bracks and Thwaites returned to the Austin as feted guests. The special stage and sound system rigged up on the Austin's forecourt had to be abandoned as rain threatened, but the weather turned out to be the only gloomy element on the day.

As Premier, Steve Bracks announced a $320million public redevelopment of the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre, which would include $65million to relocate the Mercy Hospital for Women. Three new buildings, including an acute wing of 440 in-patient beds, would be built at the Austin site. Bracks declared it would create the most comprehensive tertiary teaching hospital complex in Australia.
We've all been through ... so much in the five years since amalgamation (between the Austin and the Repatriation),'' McNicol says. We've now got to the line and there is a plan and money and vision; it's a huge fillip to the staff.

People feel like they've been put through the wringer. There was the naming and identification issues (from the merger) and then the saga of the network and we came out of that to be privatised and everyone was really uncomfortable about the potential for other people to be controlling the destiny of the hospital.''

Bid to save hall and green, Diamond Valley News, September 13, 2000
VETERANS have called on the State Government to upgrade recreation facilities at the old repatriation hospital to be retained in the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre's $320 million revamp.

The Red Cross Centre, a recreation hall built in 1942 for injured war veterans, and the neighbouring bowling green, were to be demolished under plans for the medical centre's privatisation released by the Kennett Government in 1996.

The plans were cancelled by the new Labor Government last year, but the Red Cross Centre's future had been in limbo until the new redevelopment was announced by the State Government two weeks ago.

Go for hospital, Diamond Valley News, November 7, 2001
IT'S all systems go for the $325 million Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre redevelopment, with the announcement of the project's major contractor.

Construction of the buildings, carpark and the Mercy Hospital for Women relocation will start immediately, - - - - - --
"Having put an end to the privatisation of our public hospitals, this $325 million project will bring together two of Victoria's finest public hospitals on the one site, providing world-class acute and specialist facilities."

Labor Pledges Austin Review, The Age (Melbourne) November 7, 2001
Federal Labor would review the Coalition's decision to strip the Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre of funding for its cancer scanning program, opposition health spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said yesterday.

Ms Macklin said the process behind a last minute'' decision by retiring Health Minister Michael Wooldridge not to continue funding for the Austin's positron emission tomography scanner needed scrutiny.

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