Page 1913 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 27 June 2023

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Calvary Hospital—transition

Ministerial statement

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (10.21): I rise today to provide the Assembly with an update on the northside hospital transition.

On 31 May 2023, the Assembly passed the Health Infrastructure Enabling Act 2023 following review by the scrutiny committee. This provided a path forward for a new billion-dollar hospital in Canberra’s northside under a single network provider.

The passing of the bill enabled the ACT government to acquire the Calvary Public Hospital land and transition existing Calvary Public Hospital staff and assets to Canberra Health Services from 3 July. The day after the passing of legislation, Calvary lodged an action with the Supreme Court, which was heard by a full bench, including Chief Justice McCallum, on 7 June 2023.

While the legislation was enacted on 2 June 2023, the territory agreed to hold off on exercising some powers under the act until the matter was heard, which included sections 11 and 12 and parts of section 13 of the act. On 9 June 2023 the Supreme Court dismissed Calvary’s application for an injunction to prevent the transition process and its challenge to the legislation, upholding the validity of the Health Infrastructure Enabling Act 2023.

While aspects of the transition were delayed by a week, the ACT government welcomed the outcome of the Supreme Court matter, which provided assurances for the Canberra community and the Calvary workforce. It was important that certainty was provided to everyone involved, particularly Calvary team members and patients.

Our main concern was that any further uncertainty would only cause distress for the workforce and the people of the ACT and surrounding region. While the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the act, the Health Infrastructure Enabling Regulation 2023 remains the subject of court proceedings. The ACT government has listened to concerns from Calvary Health Care, raised both directly and through the courts, regarding the regulation.

The ACT government has made some minor amendments to the Health Infrastructure Enabling Regulation 2023, which include provisions required in determining market value, the definition of dispute and to allow the court to ensure just terms. In light of the mutual decision between Calvary and the ACT government regarding Clare Holland House, which I will discuss further later, a clause has been omitted that excluded Clare Holland House from the transition.

Despite the legal challenges, the ACT government and Calvary Health Care have continued to work collaboratively during the transition of operators ahead of 3 July. On 13 June, Calvary Health Care announced that they would comply with the legislation in relation to the transition. On the same day, transition team members
met with Calvary Health Care to discuss the plan for transition, which was an important step.

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