A four-bed ward of patients in Bendigo hospital was invaded by a stern Tony Abbott and a small flock of minders this week, causing one patient to duck for cover under the blankets.
The ward visit was the prelude to a quick chat with head of Bendigo Health John Mulder and the executive director of the new hospital project, David Walker, then a tour of the site.
The announcement by the hospital that they estimate the carbon tax will add $600,000 a year to the hospital’s power bills prompted the visit by the Opposition leader.
Flanked by shadow minister for health Peter Dutton and the newly endorsed Liberal candidate for next year’s federal election Greg Bickley, he delivered his message simply.
“Bendigo would benefit from a government which delivers lower taxes, better services, stronger borders and modern infrastructure,” Mr Abbott said.
There was no room for anything but the message he had come to Bendigo to deliver, as he walked briskly past patients and visitors.
Kevin Berry, nursing a leg busted when he fell off a hay stack, tried to explain about the rat problem out on his farm, but even his comment that it wasn’t the hay but the blue twine the rats were after couldn’t swerve Mr Abbott from his focus.
A tight smile, a nudge from one of his minders, and the Opposition leader moved on, leaving Mr Berry to contemplate the rats alone.