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Calvary signage being removed from the Bruce hospital on July 2 (Catholic Voice)

The ACT Government faces renewed pressure over its forced takeover of Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, with Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith accused of “bad faith” negotiations in the lead-up to the compulsory acquisition. Source: The Australian.

Based on Freedom of Information documents and correspondence tabled in the territory’s Legislative Assembly, the ACT Opposition claims Ms Stephen-Smith did not warn Calvary that failure to reach agreement last year during negotiations over sharing land on the Calvary site could lead to a government takeover.

The ACT Government announced in May that it would compulsorily acquire Calvary, prompting a storm of protest from the Church and Coalition MPs about the possible precedent for forced takeovers of religious-run government services.

Calvary, renamed North Canberra Hospital in July, began operating as a public hospital run by the Catholic Church in 1979 under an agreement reached with the commonwealth before self-government was granted to the ACT.

Last year, Ms Stephen-Smith and Calvary’s management started formal negotiations over the government’s request to use some of the land leased to Calvary to build a separate new government-owned public hospital.

Opposition health spokeswoman Leanne Castley claims Ms Stephen-Smith never warned Calvary hospital’s management that forced acquisition of Calvary was on the cards if there was no agreement over the transfer of some land on the Calvary site for the new hospital.

Ms Stephen-Smith rejects the allegation. She says Calvary’s management and especially its legal team knew or should have known from the start that proposed “special legislation” terminating Calvary’s Crown lease would automatically cancel Calvary’s “network agreement” to operate as a public hospital in the ACT.

Ms Castley said the government gave Calvary no sense of the full threat it faced, telling the Legislative Assembly last week that Calvary was “strung along” because it was not told at any time during negotiations that the “special legislation” could cancel Calvary’s “network agreement” as a public hospital.

“It was bad faith,” she said.


ACT Health Minister accused of ‘bad faith’ in hospital negotiations prior to takeover (By Brad Norington, The Australian)