Legislation to compulsorily acquire Calvary's Bruce public hospital has been introduced to the Legislative Assembly, with the bill to bypass normal procedures.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith put forward the bill on Thursday morning, which will allow the government to acquire the hospital by July 3.
The bill is expected to be debated and pass the Assembly on May 31.
Under standing orders for the Legislative Assembly, a bill is referred to a committee. The committee then considers whether it will hold an inquiry. If there is an inquiry, the bill cannot pass until the committee has handed down its report.
But the bill will be able to pass the ACT's parliament before a committee holds an inquiry. A committee can still hold an inquiry into the bill.
Government whip Mick Gentleman said this was to allow for certainty for staff at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce.
"These measures will allow more swift passage of the bill, reducing any time of uncertainty for staff and patients of Calvary Public Hospital with regards to employment and continuity of operations," he said.
Acting Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson was absolutely scathing of the government's move to introduce legislation.
"It is shameful," he said.
"What is the point of having a committee inquiry if this government is going to steamroll through and pass this bill before the committee can report or the government can respond?
"It makes a nonsense of the process."
Mr Hanson has said the Liberals will not support the compulsory acquisition.
"We do not support what's happening with the egregious, hostile acquisition of Calvary and we do not support what's happening here today with the circumvention of democratic processes," he said.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the government needed a clear timeframe for the acquisition. She said examples from other places had shown the need for this.
"We know from other examples of where networks and hospitals have been consolidated that providing staff with certainty is the most important thing in terms of their wellbeing and their ability to absorb that change and respond to it," she said.
But the Health Minister also said it was known the bill would pass as all sixteen members of the Labor-Greens government were in support. She said the bill would still be scrutinised to examine the technical legislation.
"Scrutiny will be very important because scrutiny is a technical mechanism within the Legislative Assembly to examine the legislation itself in terms of the legal and human rights compliance but not in terms of policy," Ms Stephen-Smith said.
The legislation, called the Health Infrastructure Enabling Bill 2023, sets out that the government would acquire the land from Calvary on "just terms". It does not set out a figure for compensation.
It states that Calvary and the ACT government must act in good faith to ensure the safe and orderly transition of the operation of the hospital.
On the day of the acquisition the legislation says Calvary must vacate the hospital land and allow the territory to use all the public hospital assets.
Calvary national chief executive Martin Bowles said he only found out about the government's plans on Monday. He only received a copy of the bill on Wednesday.
Mr Bowles has criticised the move and he has said Calvary is considering its options.
"This type of unexpected and unilateral decision making by the government is cause for concern."
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