Calvary Hospital Launches Legal Action as Policy Experts Slam “Appalling” Takeover Process

6 June 2023

2.7 MINS

The ACT Government continues to come under fire over its proposed takeover of Calvary Hospital in Bruce, this time for its “appalling” lack of proper process and failure to properly acknowledge the religious dimension of the crisis.

ANU Professor: The Takeover Process is “Appalling”

Andrew Podger, a professor of public policy at the Australian National University, slammed the territory government for its lack of consultation with the public and stakeholders including Calvary management, doctors, nurses and other staff.

“The lack of consultation makes suspicions of other agendas understandable, despite ACT Government denials”, Mr Podger wrote in The Canberra Times on 4 June.

“Are Calvary’s religious beliefs a contributory factor in the decision?”

“If so, let’s be open about the matter and tease out the impact, if any, on access to abortion and (in future) voluntary euthanasia.”

“My understanding is that such services are more likely to be offered outside our main public hospitals so that Calvary’s attitude would not limit access.”

Mr Podger said a range of issues that should have been “carefully considered” included the performance of both Canberra Hospital and Calvary Hospitals, a public assessment of the policy options, and needed reforms to the health system in the ACT which is suffering from an acute shortage of GPs.

“What I am certain of is that the process has been appalling.”

Former independent MLA Michael Moore, who served as the ACT’s minister for health and community care from 1998 to 2001, told the ABC that he thought the government was taking a risk in its approach.

“What would’ve been much better would be to go through a proper process and then make the decision, even after the next election.”

“There’s no particular rush to do this. The big rush is actually to get the Canberra Hospital and those health systems – emergency wait times, elective surgery wait times – under control.”

Calvary Hospital Launches Legal Action to Stop Forced Takeover

Calvary Hospital will take its fight against a forced takeover by the ACT Government to the ACT Supreme Court tomorrow, Wednesday 7 June.

In a statement, a Calvary Healthcare spokesperson said that the day after the Health Infrastructure Enabling Act 2023 passed the Legislative Assembly on 31 May, it sought both an injunction and an “urgent final hearing” of its challenge to the Act and associated regulation.

It means Canberra Health Services must put the start of its planned transition on hold until the outcome of the court hearing. A Calvary spokesperson said:

“This means it is business as usual at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce until Wednesday next week, and the Territory cannot exercise any rights to enter hospital land, require information from Calvary or otherwise require Calvary to cooperate with it to effect any transition of the public hospital from Calvary to the Territory up to and including the final hearing date.”

Lawyers for both parties appeared before the ACT Supreme Court on 1 June, with a full-day hearing on the possibility of an injunction set for 7 June.

Director of the ACT branch of the Australian Christian Lobby Rob Norman congratulated Calvary for commencing legal action and said he looked forward to the court’s decision.

“It is critical that the ACT Government’s activities are exposed to the scrutiny of the legal process,” Mr Norman said.

“The ACT Government has ignored due process and acted in a totalitarian manner, clearly motivated by its opposition to the religious ethos of the Calvary Hospital.

“The Court’s examination of this takeover will be very helpful”.

However, the ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith remained confident the compulsory acquisition will go ahead, saying her aim was to “deconflict” the transition.

On Tuesday, prior to the legislation passing the ACT Legislative Assembly, Calvary chief executive Martin Bowles said the organisation would have no choice but to take legal action if debate was not adjourned.

“We believe that it is an invalid piece of legislation, and we will challenge that in the courts,” he said.

“Our review of the proposed legislation and associated regulation indicates that just terms are simply not available and outside of this, there is no indication that commercial terms are available to resolve this matter.”


Originally published at Catholic Weekly here and here. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. Kaylene Emery 6 June 2023 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    Thankfully the Catholic hierarchy have taken this vital step of court action. The very idea that they might simply vacate, is unthinkable.

  2. H Harrison 7 June 2023 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    We all need to be praying, and share the problem and need concerning this preposterous and ungodly act. May God reveal His strong and mighty right arm!

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