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Calvary legal challenge dismissed by ACT Supreme Court

Fr Tony Percy, head of the Catholic campaign to save the Hospital has asked supporters to “accept the decision” and write to parliamentarians to voice their protest

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The head of the Catholic campaign to save Calvary Hospital has asked supporters to “accept the decision” of the ACT Supreme Court to dismiss the hospital’s legal challenge against the ACT government’s forced takeover.

“More than 40,000 of you have signed our petition and know you will be very disappointed along with many other Australians with this decision,” said the former vicar general of the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn Fr Tony Percy, in a video statement on 9 June after the decision was delivered.

“However, we have to accept the Supreme Court decision here in the ACT and we now await the reasons that the judges are going to give as to why they made this decision.

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“What is clear now is that every Australian should be writing to the Federal Government, state governments and local governments asking for guarantees that what they’re currently doing will not be taken away from them with this decision made in the ACT which could set a precedent in those jurisdictions.”

In a hearing on 7 June Calvary argued that enabling legislation passed by the government on 31 May to permit the takeover was unlawful and did not provide a mechanism for compensation on just terms.

Calvary also sought an injunction to prevent the ACT Government’s compulsory acquisition of the site from proceeding.

In announcing the decision on behalf of the full bench of the ACT Supreme Court Justice David Mossop dismissed Calvary’s application for an injunction and removed restrictions that prevented government staff accessing the site.

Calvary’s barrister, David Williams SC, has raised a possible appeal but will have to wait for the release of Justice Mossop’s full reasons.

In the meantime the ACT Government may begin transition of the only Catholic-run hospital in Canberra to state control, which it plans to complete by 3 July.

Calvary’s short statement after the ruling did not indicate whether an appeal would proceed.

“Calvary acknowledges the ACT Supreme Court orders delivered today regarding the Health Infrastructure Enabling Bill 2023 and will take time to consider the judgement once we receive it,” a spokesperson for Calvary said.

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr welcomed the outcome in a joint statement with the minister for health, Rachel Stephen-Smith.

“Calvary has played a valuable role in the delivery of public hospital care in the ACT and I thank all staff, past and present, for their dedication to our community,” he said.

“The ACT government now looks forward to our continuing partnership with Calvary for the provision of healthcare services in the ACT.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said the decision provides certainty for staff and the community, but acknowledged that uncertainty still hangs over the fate of the palliative care hospice Clare Holland House which is run by Calvary.

“We will also work as quickly as possible with Calvary to come to a final decision on the future operation of Clare Holland House and the associated palliative care services,” she said.

“I am conscious that Clare Holland House staff continue to face uncertainty, but I can assure them that our conversations with Calvary reflect the feedback that we have already heard and we will engage with them directly as soon as possible.”

The ACT Government has signalled that its transition team will formalise a formal transition plan with Calvary early next week.

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