The Liberal / Nationals Coalition Campaign Headquarters has confirmed there will be no funding announcement for the Murray Darling Medical School (MDMS) by the Leader of the Nationals, Barnaby Joyce, at the National Press Club today.
The decision came despite a long standing commitment by the Nationals at the 2013 election to millions of voters in rural Australia that they would establish the MDMS to address rural doctor shortages.
The Coalition has funded two new city medical schools in marginal Liberal electorates despite opposition from vested interests in the cities such as the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA).
Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor Andy Vann said sending rural students to the cities to study is turning them off rural practice.
"There is wide agreement that current policies have failed, and that a rural medical school is the only proven solution to rural doctor shortages," he said.
"The Nationals have been saying that a new rural medical school is needed for years, and they committed to deliver it at the 2013 election. They are on the record saying this was an 'election promise' to rural communities.
"At the National Press Club, the Leader of the Nationals will no doubt be making a range of new election promises to win rural votes in a tight election. To be credible we think the Coalition needs to deliver on the promises they have already made to regional Australia".
La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said it was disappointing for the two universities behind the MDMS plan, but devastating for rural Australians.
"The Government's own data says that upward of 6,000 rural Australians die early or unnecessarily every year due in part to poor access to health and medical services.
"The evidence shows a rural medical school will turn around the problem of rural doctor shortages.
"We understand that elections are not necessarily the environment in which to deliver good policy, but rural people reasonably expected that the commitment to the Murray Darling Medical School would be honoured.
"We will continue to remind the Liberal / Nationals Coalition and community of this promise and advocate for them to deliver on this commitment".