Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2189 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
we know how persistent our Chief Minister is when she gets an idea into her head. She never lets go, and that was the case with the hospice. There are a few smiling faces around here, and I take that as a sign of agreement with that proposal.
It became obvious at the Estimates Committee hearings on the 1998-99 budget that the hospice was in strife. The committee said in its report:
The Committee considers the Commonwealth should accept the continued operation of the Hospice at the Acton Peninsula site and that the matter should be resolved as soon as possible to allow the Little Company of Mary to concentrate on managing the Hospice.
The Committee considers that the Hospice, in which the ACT community has a significant financial and social investment, was a forgotten casualty of the Acton/Kingston land swap. The failure of the government to take the future of the Hospice into account in the land exchange is likely to result in another considerable financial impost on the Territory if the Hospice is forced to move.
We are now informed that that is about $4m. No attempt, as far as I can make out, has been made to extract $4m from the Commonwealth, not a single attempt. No attempt has been made to accomplish this recommendation of the then Estimates Committee, and I will read it, which was agreed to in principle by the Government:
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth be advised that the Territory will be continuing to operate the Hospice on the Acton Peninsula and that relocation will only be considered where the Commonwealth is prepared to accept liability for full compensation for the move to a new site including land and building costs.
That was the position that was put to the Government when this Estimates Committee report was handed down in August 1998. What sort of a result has it brought to us? Not much. What we have ended up with is a government which has offered, on the face of it at least, to move the hospice in accordance with an earlier land swap agreement which was signed by the Chief Minister.
We have been sold out on this one. We have been sold out because the hospice will be removed from the prime site in relation to its operation. We have been sold out because the Chief Minister has not pursued the $4m that we are going to have to pay for the relocation of the hospice. We have been sold out because we are going to have to find it against the background of financial strife in the Territory, such as things like the Bruce Stadium affair, and the additional costs we are all going to have to bear for the results of whatever happens following the coronial inquiry into the implosion of the buildings at Acton. We know already that millions have been invested in legal costs there. They are all the results of this dud Kingston/Acton land swap. Who knows what the eventual bill for the Territory will be? Some of us will be pushing up daisies before the final costs will be able to be calculated. This thing has been a disaster from the word go, and the hospice is just one of them.