Vic Labor pledge for biomedical centre

Victoria’s opposition is calling on the Abbott government to match a $60 million promise to build the nation’s first biomedical engineering research and education centre in Melbourne.


The proposed Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD) at St Vincent’s Hospital in inner Melbourne would bring together doctors, scientists and researchers to focus on chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and cancer as well as to develop technology including robotic hands and spinal cord repair.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that Labor would pour $60 million into the project if elected, and called on the federal government to match the contribution.

He said he was certain the prime minister would be a keen partner.

“No centre like this exists anywhere in Australia and arguably the world,” Mr Andrews told reporters.

“I would certainly hope the federal government would see there is an outstanding business case for this.

“If we are given the great honour of governing this state after the 29th of November, then I would very much welcome sitting down with Prime Minister Abbott and talking to him about how the federal government can join with a state Labor government to make this possible.”

The centre’s partners will also contribute $60 million to the $180 million total cost for the centre.

ACMD would create about 1080 construction jobs in the building phase and after 15 years’ operation would bolster the biomedical engineering industry with about 10,000 further jobs.

The centre has been in the pipeline for about seven years.

A spokesman for Health Minister David Davis said Mr Andrews’ intention to scrap the East West Link showed he had no credibility when it came to Commonwealth funding agreements.

He said the state government had increased funding for medical research projects such as the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre, and would continue to do so.

“A number of significant medical research projects are currently under consideration,” the spokesman said in a statement on Sunday.