Former PM John Howard Accuses ACT Labor of ‘Greatest Assault’ on Private Ownership

John Howard has described the ACT government’s forced takeover of the Catholic Calvary hospital as the greatest assault on the principle of private ownership he has seen in Australia. The former prime minister also attacked Anthony Albanese for backing the compulsory acquisition of the public hospital in Canberra’s north with special legislation and no declared compensation for the building and the remaining 46-year lease. Speaking on the Gold Coast at the launch of the book Dignity and Prosperity: The Future of Liberal Australia, Mr Howard said he was often criticised for “banging on about the principles of freedom being attacked”.  “Well, they are very seriously under attack right now in the ACT,” he said. “This attempt from the ACT government to grab this hospital from the Catholic Church, is about as a blatant assault on the principle of private property I have seen in many, many years.”

Recently the Labor-Greens ACT government suspended normal parliamentary procedure and pushed through the forced takeover of the Calvary hospital, which had 46 years to run on its lease, without compensation. The ACT government broke off negotiations with the Catholic healthcare group that runs the Hospital 6 months ago and suddenly announced a plan to change the law to allow the takeover so the hospital can be pulled down and a new one built. Religious and business leaders fear the move will create a precedent for the forced takeover of other religious-run services and private commercial leases in the ACT. Mr Howard said the Prime Minister lacked the “courage to call out what the ACT government is doing”.  “Everyone knows what a wonderful contribution Catholic health services have provided over the years,” he said. The Supreme Court rejected a bid for an injunction from the Catholic health services seeking to stop the takeover. There may be an appeal to the High Court.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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