The Australian state of Victoria has pledged to employ an additional 1,700 nurses, 400 doctors and 700 other health professionals under a four-year A$1.5bn ($1.5bn) package if the state government is re-elected.

The health professionals will be employed within two years and be spread across the hospital system to provide faster treatment.

Of the $1.5bn package A$618m ($627m) will be spent on treating an extra 315,000 emergency patients and A$344m ($349m) on 620,000 surgeries.

The government also plans to implement new laws to double the maximum penalty imposed on people who attack health workers.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said that the package will provide more elective surgery, more treatment in emergency departments and ensure that more patients are treated with better care.