‘Favouring his mates’: Vicar reprimands PM over Calvary takeover

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Ray Hadley: Tony Percy: The story that was published by Dennis Shanahan states that Anthony Albanese is facing a two-pronged attack from political and Catholic church leaders over his failure to intervene in the ACT Labor – Green government’s decision to acquire compulsorily, the Calvary Catholic public Hospital, Peter Dutton describes the prime minister’s failure to intervene in the compulsory take over of the Canberra Hospital as support for an extraordinary attack on freedom of religion. Now we reached out to Archbishop Anthony Fisher. He directed me to Father Tony Percy, recently retired vicar general of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn and father, Tony Percy, on the line.

Father, good morning to you.

Tony Percy: Good morning Ray. Thanks for having me.

Ray Hadley: It’s a pleasure, they tell me, you know, all about this. And you’ve been on the case for quite some time. We’ve only become more enlightened recently; I do broadcast into Canberra. My listeners down there are absolutely insensed just given that the state governments and territory governments are flat-out running. You know, things that are as important as hospitals. Why would they want to take over a functioning Catholic Hospital like this one?

Tony Percy: Well, the reason given publicly raises that they want a more Integrated Service. That’s the reason the minister here has said that, but they put out a report here on the 10th of April and at the back end of the report says Calvary offers Medical Services with a bit too much of a religious overtone. So, just imagine people saying that about some Benson Sydney or the Martyr and Queensland, or the Mercy down there and Victoria, how ridiculous people are delighted with the medical care they get. And they’re delighted with the pastoral care, whether you happen to be a Catholic or not or have no faith at all. It’s a garbage argument, for sure.

Ray Hadley: Father, just take me through that slowly because I recently had care – I’m a non-Catholic; I’ve got four Catholic children and a stack of Catholic grandchildren. I can’t believe what you just said to me. I went to the Martyr for some important surgery for the remove something or the back of my leg and I couldn’t have been more impressed with what happened. And no one spoke to me about whether I was Catholic, Callithumpian, or Jewish. I mean, I mean, are they fair dinkum?

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Tony Percy: Well, no, I don’t think they are fair dinkum, Ray. I think that they’re saying it’s not about religious stuff, but it clearly is; I think about, I mean, that they’re talking about an Integrated Health System and get this in Canberra here, there’s a thing called Claire Holland House, which is one of the most revered institutions in Canberra. It’s palliative care. Now, it’s run by Calvary, but also Terry Snow has, puts a lot of money into its private money into it and the first thing that the minister does and her supposed consultation, she meets in a boutique Café with some members of the staff. Look, what we’re going to do here. Now we’re going to divide up. The care will do the community palliative care, and you guys do the institutional care. What anyone with half a brain knows that if you want it integrated, a fully Integrated Medical that you’ve got to bring things together. Get this – she is the first step in your integrated Services is to divide palliative care. It’s amazing.

Ray Hadley: I’d say to you, that my observations over a long period of time is that one of the many things that gets stuffed up at a state and territory level is our hospitals. Ryan Park the minister in New South Wales of making an important announcement tomorrow about Emergency Care, having just come the government, and I’m not blaming governments, but I’ve got to tell you, I don’t have much confidence in you know, most of the things they do because as soon as you bring the bureaucrats, and Sr Humphries’ into it, things tend to get if you’ll pardon the expression, father, buggered up and I couldn’t imagine that anyone in the ACT apart from these dills in the government, the Greens and the Labor would think they could improve what Calvary has done for 44 years, given you got another 76 years to run under your agreement, but what’s the agreement worth? Not a pinch? Obviously!

Tony Percy: That’s right. See the federal government brought Calvary here. They started discussions in 1971 and then they started the hospital in 1979 and the idea was it would help draw public servants out of Melbourne and Sydney to Canberra with an alternate public health system in Canberra. Also they’ve got a private hospital here in Canberra, which is very, very good as well. It was just built the last five years and they’re building private hospitals all around the place. And so that was the idea and it’s a 120-year lease in there, 44 years into the lease. So having discussions about how they might do something new and then it all broke down. So get this that they’re going to do what they call a compulsory acquisition which governments can do; we know they can do them, but they’ve got to do them according to the rule of law and they got to do them on, just terms – remember the film The Castle.

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Tony Percy: So what the government does is it says ‘No, no’ the rule of law would apply here. We don’t need the two months discussion period for the bill because the greens put that into the so no we don’t need that now. So there’s no inquiries. No reports into what is called the Infrastructure Enabling Bill and they say, no, no, we don’t need that. And furthermore, get this, Ray, The 1994 Land Acquisition ACT Act. That’s the Act that tells you how to do compulsory acquisition by, say oh we’re going to suspend that as well. We don’t need it. So what’s at stake here is not only Calvary, but it’s every health and educational institution not only in the ACT but right around the country where we’re saying. What’s at stake? Here is, is it other governments go to do this sort of stuff, according to their own rule of law and according to their own acts of Parliament, that here the government saying no. So every Australian should be really worried, really worried.

Ray Hadley: It’s the thin end of the wedge. You can imagine them going to The Seventh-Day Adventist up there at the sander. Do a wonderful job not just for people that religion, my four children or three of my four children, born there until my grandchildren born there and they’re not Seventh-day Adventist, I can guarantee. But, I mean it, this is, look, there’s no other way to say it. Father, this is an attack on religion, not just a Catholic. Religion on all religions. The Greens’ ideology and helped by Labor, and the Prime Minister says they will have hands on his hips and shake his head, saying he, has nothing to do with it. Of course, he has something to do with it.

Tony Percy: Well, hang on, hang on. See, the prime minister is he was smart. He would have, he would have remained silent over it, but he came out supporting Mr Barr. He came out in support of it. So here we have the Prime Minister, an elected representative of Australia elected to represent ordinary Australians. Not the Labour Party. That he’s elected for he’s saying oh, our favourite mates in Canberra Mr Barr instead of ordinary Australians. So the prime minister of the country, can you imagine John Curtin, Ben Chifley, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating doing such a thing? No way! No way they were men with integrity, whatever you thought of their politics and they were there to represent that ordinary Australian. So we have got a fight on our hands here and I reckon the next thing that’s got to happen here. We’ve got to all write to all the Educational and Health ministers and say, in all the other states and territories, can you give us a guarantee that you will not act like the ACT government is acting here? We need a guarantee now. You know, so the constitution of Australia Ray is brilliant – section 116. Where it says, basically, no official religion, no compulsion in religion, no restriction of religion and no religious discrimination. And the founders were not religious, but they understood the importance of freedom in this area. So, freedom for you, whatever your faith is Ray, for me, but also for a Seven-Day Adventist. So whoever it is, it’s a really important issue for the country.

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And you’ve spoken so eloquently about it. I’m reading the quote, if people haven’t seen it, the Prime Minister said about the ACT government’s Health Plan “The compulsory takeover should not be seen as providing any precedent” What the bloody hell is it but not a precedent.

I know right. That’s all politics speak; forget that. It’s a real problem.

Well, anyway, I have to say that I think the Prime Minister and the ACT Green Labor government at taking on a bit more than they actually thought about at the start of all this because it’s all-encompassing. It’s not about the Catholic religion; it’s about the overtaking of religious freedoms, as you so eloquently put Father.

We will stay on the case with your help. We’ll keep ramming it to them. Thanks for your time, Ray. Thank you, Father, Tony Percy recently retired vicar General the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.


Wordpress (3)

    Perhaps it’s time for Goulburn-style takeover. Send all ACT Catholic school students to their local state school for a week. Honestly, if respectful methods fail, why not?

  • Professor Ann Daniel 4 months

    Before every state election a critical question to each contending group is: are our religious institutions safe? Would your government ‘compulsorily acquire any one of them (that is will you contemplate stealing them
    ? and is theft of that size not a capital offence such that its perpetrators can be jailed>

  • Anna 4 months

    A politician is only as good as his last word. The quote by the Prime Minister will go down in history and one I’m sure he will regret in time. The positive thing for all of us is that the mask has finally come off and the PMs true colours have been exposed. So maybe, just maybe, we won’t be so captivated by his rhetoric on social justice matters now, and into the future, because as we’ve all witnessed by his inaction and blatant support of the ACT Green government how are we expected to trust his political judgement for our country anymore? 
    Prayers are with you Fr Percy and all the staff at Calvary Hospital.