Baillieu Fails To Rule Out Shutting Down VicHealth

The Baillieu Government has failed to rule out shutting down VicHealth, a recognised world leader in health promotion, following media reports that the controversial option was included in the Vertigan report which has been considered by cabinet.

Shadow Minister for Health Promotion Danielle Green said the Vertigan report’s recommendation to axe the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, more commonly known as VicHealth, had not been ruled out by the Baillieu Government.

“Baillieu Government ministers were asked twice if cutting VicHealth was on their agenda, and twice they failed to rule it out,” Ms Green said.

“Disturbingly both the Treasurer, Kim Wells and Health Minister David Davis refused to be drawn on guaranteeing the future of the state’s peak health promotion body.

“Mr Davis admitted that the report was used in ‘cabinet deliberations’, but the Government has refused to release the final version of the report, authored by former treasury secretary, Dr Michael Vertigan.”

Ms Green said the Premier must come clean about his intentions regarding the recommendations included in the report.

“Is the Premier prepared to cut agencies like VicHealth, which has a proven track record of improving health amongst Victorians?” she said.

“If this is the case, Mr Baillieu would be putting an end to 25 years of tri-partisan support for the foundation.

“If VicHealth was cut it would affect partner organisations, such as Quit, universities, peak sporting bodies and local government, which receive funding and support to improve the health and wellbeing of their members and the state’s population more broadly.

“In the same month that the Gillard Government defeated the challenge to its historic plain tobacco packaging laws, we find out the Baillieu Government is considering cutting the very body that has been instrumental in halving the prevalence of smoking in Victoria.

“Given both the Liberal and National parties continue to receive funding from the tobacco industry, any moves to limit or cut VicHealth would be seen as a big win for the industry.

“Mr Baillieu either does nothing or he gets it completely wrong – nothing demonstrates this better than his refusal to rule out cutting VicHealth.”