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Calvary Inquiry needs to respect Territory Rights

ACT Independent Senator David Pocock will seek to amend two separate motions scheduled to be moved in the parliament today by Coalition Senators Matt Canavan and Michaelia Cash seeking both a federal senate inquiry into the ACT Government’s compulsory acquisition of Calvary Public Hospital and intervention from the Federal Government.

While acknowledging that the acquisition has raised a range of concerns from some across the community and with certain stakeholders, Senator Pocock said territory rights must still be respected.

“The territories are already disadvantaged when it comes to our democratic rights and representation compared to the states. I do not believe we should be ceding even more control to the Commonwealth,” Senator Pocock said.

“I have had some Canberrans raise concerns with me about the acquisition of Calvary and have passed on those concerns to the ACT Chief Minister and Health Minister. I have also requested they consider conducting an inquiry in the Legislative Assembly into the handling of the acquisition and the impacts it will have on peoples’ access to healthcare in our city and our region.

“I will not advocate for our rights as a Territory then turn around and cherry pick particular decisions to be the subject of federal intervention or review where there was no decision making power for the Commonwealth.”

Responding to comments from interstate Coalition senators, Senator Pocock said Canberrans do have a voice and that is what helped finally restore Territory rights after the last election following a quarter-century long campaign.

“I will stand up for our community every step of the way, but I won’t undermine our hard won rights to self-government,” Senator Pocock said.

Senator Pocock’s amendments to the two Coalition motions acknowledge the concerns raised and will seek to have these addressed by an inquiry at the Territory government level.

He noted comments from the ACT Branch of the Australian Medical Association opposing any federal inquiry and said the primary focus needs to be on improving health services delivery across the territory.

“Canberrans want and deserve a better healthcare system than what we have currently and that’s what we need to focus our energy on delivering,” Senator Pocock said.

“I’ve been pushing the federal government to do more in the areas over which they do have jurisdiction, like addressing the severe shortage of GPs in our city.”

Senator Pocock's letter to the ACT Chief MInister and Minister for health outlines the nature of concerns that have been raised with him ranging from matters relating to consultation and disruption to delivery of health services to risks around workforce shortages and establishing a precedent for further forced acquisitions of property from religious institutions. He has asked that the ACT Government consider facilitating an inquiry within the ACT Legislative Committee system.

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