With the Greens advocating compulsory acquisition of Calvary and the Opposition offering little to no suggestion for Canberra’s looming Northern hospital nightmare, the Government is being forced back to the drawing board.
The ACT Government’s $77 million deal with the Little Company of Mary Health Care Ltd for the purchase of Calvary Hospital and the sale of Clare Holland House hospice came dramatically unstuck over the weekend, when the Catholic healthcare provider pulled out, citing the lengthly process for obtaining Vatican approval.
Health Minister and Treasured Katy Gallagher was dismissive of suggestions for compulsory acquisition saying it was a “crazy” idea that would only result in a lengthly and expensive legal battle with LCMHC:It would cause a lot of conflict, it would put the system into disarray and it wouldn’t deliver the outcome we need, which is to have a hospital built within six years.
“[But] I don’t know how to ensure that our budget can meet the financial challenges under the status quo.
“The third hospital would be the easiest way forward, we could fund that ourselves, and it would be relatively straightforward. But, from a health service delivery point of view, the Calvary site is by far the site that we would prefer to invest in. As you can see, the predicament we are in is not an easy one to solve.”
Greens MLA Amanda Bresnan said if the Government were willing to wait for the Vatican to approve the deal then a drawn out battle with LCMHC over compulsory acquisition isn’t so bad – especially when there no alternative has been presented.
“Why wouldn’t we be considering compulsory acquisition as something to look at, when you already would have been in a protracted situation and an expensive situation where we’re paying out $77 million for the hospital? I just can’t understand why you wouldn’t be considering that as an option, especially when we’re in a situation where we don’t really have another option to look at.”
Opposition spokesman Jeremy Hanson said the Canberra Liberals will not support compulsory acquisition or the construction of a third, but that they would consider any suggestions the Government put on the table – conspicuously refusing to put forward any alternatives while berating the Government for only having one idea.
“What we want to see is a continuation of investment into Calvary hospital into the future.
“There are alternatives to simply compulsory acquiring or using millions of dollars to acquire Calvary Hospital.
“We’ll look at any options that the government puts on the table, but we won’t be looking at compulsory acquisition.”