Page 4567 - Week 12 - Thursday, 15 October 2009

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upwards of $200 million into a complete rebuild of that public hospital and it is done as a grant to a third party, then that will have a significant impact on our budget. That is the reality.

I have not at any point threatened in any way to withdraw services from Calvary if we are unable to purchase the hospital. It is simply not the case. However, we have outlined the difficulties if we do not own it. Building a third hospital would starve funds from Calvary. That is the only way you could build a third hospital—by reducing funding to Calvary Public Hospital. I said in this place yesterday that that would be the worst outcome for this community, and it is not one that I support.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, a supplementary question?

MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, did you, any official or anyone from the government ever at any time indicate to the Little Company of Mary or the Catholic Church that government funding to Calvary would be cut or a third hospital would be built in competition with Calvary if LCM did not agree to sell Calvary to the government?

MS GALLAGHER: The answer to that is no, we have not at all. But we are doing our job in terms of looking at all possibilities, all scenarios, to make sure that we can build a public health system that can be supported by our budget—owned by the people of the ACT is our preference—and that is the scenario that we have outlined in the possible purchase of Calvary Public Hospital and indeed supported by the financial analysis that Treasury has done on this model.

Mr Smyth: So sell it to us or stay—

MS GALLAGHER: I can certainly say that that is not how this discussion started at all. The government approached LCM and inquired as to whether or not they would be willing to engage in a discussion with us around ownership of Calvary Public Hospital. LCM said they were. At no point were any threats made—

Mr Smyth: Here is an offer you can’t refuse.

MS GALLAGHER: and it was not put in that way, Mr Smyth. You can try and create conspiracy theories around this. It is a genuine attempt to look at our health system as a whole and to provide a fantastic health precinct over there in Belconnen for the people of the ACT. That is what this is about, and the sooner the Liberal Party look at it like that and do not come from the point of view that this is a conspiracy being run by the government for other reasons which they have not been able to articulate, the better. The issue is around the best public health system that we can build. But at no point were threats made about withdrawal of funding from Calvary Public Hospital as the alternative.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, a supplementary question?

MRS DUNNE: Minister, did you mislead the Assembly yesterday or is Mr Brennan wrong in his comments that were reported in the Canberra Times today?

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