House debates

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Constituency Statements

Calvary Hospital

4:13 pm

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

We spend about half our year here in Canberra and the other half back in the electorate, so we have a strong interest in what happens in Canberra. One thing that has been very disturbing recently is the compulsory acquisition of Calvary Hospital. This is a disgrace. In 1979 Calvary Hospital was given a 120-year lease. Now, in 2023, Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has passed legislation for the compulsory acquisition of this Catholic hospital. We've heard the Prime Minister of Australia say over and over again that there are three things that are very important in his life—one was the South Sydney Rabbitohs, another was the Australian Labor Party, and the other was his Catholic upbringing. So it's incumbent upon him, as upon all of us, that in this territory the Prime Minister makes clear his views on the support of this Catholic institution, the Calvary hospital.

It's also ridiculous that we're acquiring a hospital that is not going to help the health system in the ACT; it's going to hurt it. The Calvary hospital is a vital part of the health system of the ACT. We know, or presume, that some of the issues that sit behind this are some of the ethical beliefs that Catholicism holds. The choice is people's—if they don't want to go to Calvary hospital, they don't have to. They can go to another hospital. But to impose the beliefs of the state on a private institution, Calvary hospital, is to say you're at complete odds with your belief in religious discrimination.

That is something that the Labor Party—I refer to the statements of the shadow Attorney-General at that time, Mark Dreyfus, and the Leader of the Opposition at that point in time on moving ahead with this religious discrimination issue and protecting people's right to their faith. We can't protect their right to their faith if we have a territorian government with Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, supported by the chief minister, charging into a religious institution and basically taking it over. That is at complete odds with our belief in religious freedoms.

There are now 25,000 signatures and that number is growing. The other day I was speaking to former chief minister Gary Humphries. He said that there are very few things that wake people up and get them anxious and angry, but this has done it. This has done it. I want to commend Father Tony Percy, who's been working so hard. I believe that it's also incumbent upon any person who comes down to Canberra, who works in our nation's capital—the bush capital, this great city—to contact the ACT government, quietly or publicly, and say, 'For goodness sake, stop this.'