ACT government accused of bullying in Calvary Hospital takeover

Calvary Hospital

The ACT state government has been accused of using “bullying and standover tactics” in the forced takeover of Calvary Hospital, a Catholic health provider.

The Australian Federal Coalition has called for a Senate inquiry into the ACT government’s forced takeover of Calvary Hospital after the Catholic health provider lost its legal bid to halt the controversial acquisition.

A full bench of the ACT Supreme Court dismissed Calvary Health Care’s legal challenge on Friday, arguing that the legislation underpinning the takeover was invalid.

However, Calvary Health Care said it is “very disappointed” with the court’s decision and has indicated it will appeal the ruling.

Still, the management transition can proceed while the legal debate about those regulations continues.

“We believe that the ACT government has acted unlawfully, and we will continue to fight for our rights,” said Calvary Health Care CEO Stephen Duckett.

Religious leaders have condemned the decision – which paves the way for the ACT Labor government to build a new hospital on the Bruce site – for setting a precedent by ­acquiring Calvary.

An ACT parliamentary committee, chaired by Greens member Jonathan Davis, criticised the hospital this year for its reluctance to offer abortions.

A “sordid affair”

Federal Liberal senator Michaelia Cash issued a statement calling for a Senate inquiry into the hospital’s compulsory acquisition, describing it as a “sordid affair.”

“The ACT government has avoided scrutiny on this issue,” Senator Cash said. “They did not do any public consultation on the acquisition and used their numbers in the legislature to block an inquiry.

“The ACT government has shown it will resort to the worst form of bullying and standover tactics if it doesn’t get its way,” Cash argued.

Opposition health spokesman Anne Ruston said the takeover set a “dangerous precedent” for other religious institutions.

“This is a clear case of the ACT government using its power to discriminate against a religious institution,” she said. “This sets a dangerous precedent for other religious institutions, such as aged-care homes, which could also be targeted by this government.”

The ACT government has defended the takeover, saying it is necessary to ensure that Canberra has a “world-class” public hospital.

“This is a major investment in the health of Canberrans,” said ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith. “We are confident that this new hospital will provide world-class care for generations to come.”


The Australian


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