Queensland LNP senator Matt Canavan has introduced a bill to force the ACT government to hold an inquiry into its compulsory takeover of Calvary Public Hospital Bruce.
The sole purpose of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Amendment Bill 2023 is to make the Labor-Greens territory government hold an inquiry which would report back before June 30, 2024.
Liberal leader Peter Dutton regards it as "unprecedented" while Senator Canavan has described it as a "midnight raid".
The new effort to hold a Calvary inquiry has been backed by acting ACT opposition leader Jeremy Hanson.
"We need an inquiry and this is a mechanism that I hope does eventuate in an inquiry in the ACT into what is happening at Calvary," he told reporters.
"This is really the last resort. If this does not happen we are not going to have an inquiry into what is a fundamentally flawed proposal."
Senator Pocock has not stated his position on the new bill, but last week he insisted, in the spirit of territory rights, any inquiry be held by the territory government not by the Federal Parliament.
He is holding firm that the ACT should not be overridden.
"There is a history of the Federal Parliament reaching into affairs in the ACT," the senator said on Monday.
"Last year, we overturned a 25-year ban on the ACT actually discussing and legislating when it comes to things like voluntary assisted dying. The ACT is mature enough to have our own discussions and make our own decisions when it comes to the Calvary takeover."
Without the ACT senator's immediate backing for a federal inquiry, Senator Canavan's attempt last Thursday to establish a Senate inquiry into the forced takeover was lost by two votes: 26 ayes to 28 nays.
Senator Pocock has written to the ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr as well as the ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith asking for a territory inquiry.
He has concerns about ACT voters having their say on the matter.
"The inquiry should be at the Legislative Assembly," he said on Monday. "It is for the ACT government and people have an opportunity to vote next year and decide for themselves if they agree with the way that this has happened and whether or not it was a good decision for the territory.
"I do think it's important to have an inquiry. I don't think it's the right place to have it in the Senate.
"And I'm really hopeful that the Legislative Assembly do have an inquiry. Should that not happen, potentially there is then an argument for the Senate to hold an inquiry if there is no oversight or way for people to actually have input into the decision."
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