ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope whipped out the PR pistols this morning, attacking Liberal MLAs Alistair Coe and Vicki Dunne and the Greens Parliamentary Convener Meredith Hunter for their criticisms of the Calvary hospital deal.
The Government has spent recent months facing a hailstorm of concerns about the $77 million dollar deal, which would see Calvary Hospital bought from and Clare Holland House palliative care hospice sold to Catholic providers Little Company of Mary Health Care Pty Ltd.
A press release issued at 11.30am said the Opposition “must explain to Belconnen residents why they intend to spurn the promise of 75 new hospital beds in the district, and why they are endangering a $200 million investment in public health in Belconnen over the coming years”.
By turning the issue around and making it about what they plan to provide post sale, the Government are playing on public perceptions of inadequate healthcare – specifically by focusing on bed numbers and their supposed support of publicly owned healthcare (which is conveniently forgotten whenever the issue of the hospice comes up).
The Minister for Health Katy Gallagher has already done some double speak on the deal, earlier in the month arguing that the hospital had to be bought – so the government could invest money in it and make healthcare better; and the hospice sold – so LCMHC could invest money in it and make healthcare better.
Whether government or private providers offer the best healthcare service is open for debate, but it is ironic that Gallagher has repeatedly claimed the only thing that will change with Clare Holland House is the “bricks and mortar” – that it everything else will stay the same and/or be better – and now Stanhope goes about loudly proclaiming how important it is to own those bricks and mortar:
This is an investment that simply cannot be afforded unless it is injected into a facility that is owned by the people of Canberra. No Government – Labor or Liberal – could afford to invest so massively in a hospital that was legally owned by someone else, and it would be negligent in the extreme for Mr Coe, Mrs Dunne and Ms Hunter to encourage Canberrans to believe otherwise.
Um hospice anyone? What’s good for the goose…