The ACT Government is set to learn within days whether it can proceed with what has been described as a “hostile” takeover of Calvary Public Hospital Bruce. Source: Canberra Times.
The fate of the hospital now rests with a full bench of the ACT Supreme Court, which is expected to rule no later than next Tuesday on the validity of legislation passed to enable a planned compulsory acquisition.
Calvary Health Care ACT urged the court yesterday to block the takeover, with its barrister arguing the Government’s “extraordinary and unique” legislation was invalid.
Barrister David Williams SC said there had been nothing quite like it since the 1940s, when the High Court scuppered the Commonwealth’s plan to nationalise private banks.
That case dealt with the issue of constitutional requirements for property to be acquired on “just terms”, which Mr Williams argued would not happen under the Calvary legislation.
He described his client as “a charitable institution which has served the community with dedication for 40 years”, noting it had 1800 public hospital employees, hundreds of contracts with third parties and at least 75 years remaining on its operating licence.
The Government’s plan to compulsorily acquire the hospital on July 3 would, Mr Williams told the Supreme Court, amount to a “hostile”, or at least unwelcome, takeover.
Lawyers for the ACT Government argued the takeover legislation did not need to expressly set out the terms on which Calvary would be compensated.
In oral submissions, ACT solicitor-general Peter Garrisson SC argued Calvary had not challenged the core provisions of the takeover legislation.
Chief Justice Lucy McCallum indicated she, Justice David Mossop and Justice Belinda Baker planned to rule on the legislation’s validity no later than next Tuesday.
Calvary Health Care asks ACT Supreme Court to block ‘hostile’ public hospital takeover (By Blake Foden, Canberra Times)
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP: What’s at stake in the Calvary case (The Catholic Weekly)