Calvary Hospital Update
The forced acquisition of Calvary was a most troubling time for the hospital workforce, with people crying on the wards, Calvary regional chief executive Ross Hawkins has told a federal Senate inquiry.
The committee is examining whether the ACT Government should hold an inquiry into the takeover.
“We were an operator and a long-term partner of the ACT government (and) we’d worked with government closely for 34 years. We’d existed for 44 years,” Mr Hawkins said.
“That was taken away from us in a matter we believe was not acceptable.”
Mr Hawkins said while his staff were “focusing on saving lives”, the ACT Government was secretly working on taking control of the hospital.
“That’s deeply upsetting. That’s not what you expect from a partner,” he said.
We’re here to explain our story, and I really think it’s up to parliament to determine where that threshold sits.”
The ACT Government executed a mandatory acquisition of the hospital from Calvary Health Care in July this year. A new $1 billion hospital is planned at the site, now known as North Canberra Hospital.
Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Chancellor Patrick McArdle said the ACT was “unique” in the Commonwealth as the seat of government.
“It does not have the full range of state prerogatives,” he said.
“It will therefore always be subject to additional levels of scrutiny from parliament. Self-government in the ACT is not a right – it is a determination of this parliament.”
“The archdiocese believes that more scrutiny is required of this decision, rather than less.”
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith argued the government had not sought to avoid scrutiny or due process in the Legislative Assembly for the bill enabling the hospital takeover.
“The other relevant committees have always been free to undertake an inquiry and the ACT government has not sought to avoid scrutiny – we have sought to manage a complex process with the least possible disruption to staff and to consumers in the ACT,” she said.
Father Tony Percy told the committee he was worried the takeover set a precedent, and that organisations around the country would seek written guarantees that other jurisdictions would not seek to acquire the church’s assets.
“What trust have we got and what else is being assured to us?” he said.
“It’s our intention to keep going beyond this inquiry to ensure every institution in the country – federal, state and the territories is actually secure. We want written guarantees – not just for the Catholic church, but for every institution whether it’s religious or not.
“There’s a lot of anxiety on this.”
A compensation amount for the takeover has not yet been determined.
The Senate committee is due to deliver its findings tomorrow.