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Hobart Private Hospital - Healthscope Lease Terms

4 September 2019

Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for HEALTH, Ms COURTNEY

You have gifted the long-term lease of Hobart Private Hospital to Healthscope which is owned by a Canadian company, Brookfield, and controlled from an off-shore tax haven in the Cayman Islands. Fact. Those structures are created to aggressively minimise tax and hide information. You have renewed the lease with Healthscope, the same company that has been operating at a loss during the previous lease period, failing to provide essential emergency services and apparently allowing maintenance of our public building to fall to deplorable levels.

Tasmanians need to be confident that Healthscope's lease conditions will not include sweet deals for the company that was a Liberal Party donor. Will you protect the interest of tax paying Tasmanians and come clean with the lease terms that you are secretly negotiating?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I welcome the opportunity to talk about the deal that has been negotiated with Healthscope for the Hobart Private Hospital. We know that having a co-located public and private facility on that site is good for Tasmanians. It is good for access; it is good for patient flow. As I outlined last week, aspects of this deal such as being able to have an ED open 24/7 means that -

Greens members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please.

Ms COURTNEY - This will see more Tasmanians being able to access the services that they need. This will allow Tasmanians to be able to flow through the hospital better. This will support our hardworking doctors in the ED department that we know is under pressure; this will help support them and it will help support our paramedics to ensure that they are getting off the ramps. This is a good deal for Tasmanians. It is a good deal for the health system.

It is unfortunate that the Greens seek to undermine such an important -

Ms O'Connor - We just want transparency.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker, it goes to relevance. I asked what the deals were, not that they were a good deal. What are the deals that are being negotiated?

Madam SPEAKER - I am sorry, that is not a point of order but it has been heard.

Ms COURTNEY - Thank you, Madam Speaker. As I was outlining with regard to-

Ms O'Connor - No you were not.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor, I will have to give you a warning.

Ms COURTNEY - Madam Speaker, after a rigorous open and competitive process Healthscope has been selected as the preferred operator of the Hobart Private Hospital. Healthscope and the Government have struck an in-principle agreement that will see a greater return to the state, improved integration between the Royal Hobart Hospital and the Hobart Private Hospital, and increased capital investment in the site itself.

Most importantly, there will be improved delivery and continuity of services in line the Government's strategic health objectives. This is a deal that is delivering for Tasmanians. We are seeing more capital investment, we are seeing better integrated services, we are seeing the ED open 24/7. This is a good deal and we know from other -

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker, what are the deals that have been arranged, how long is the lease?

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order.

Ms O'Connor - We are just getting fluff from the minister, with respect, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER - I am sorry, Ms O'Connor, but you know the rules.

Ms COURTNEY - As was outlined last week, there is an in-principle agreement and other aspects are being negotiated at the moment. The member would know with this type of negotiation it is important that we have sufficient probity and due process in this type of important decision that would impact Tasmanians and Tasmanian taxpayers. I have every confidence in the negotiating team to be able to handle this in an appropriate way that will get the best outcomes for Tasmanians.

Greens members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, I will have to give you a warning too.

Ms COURTNEY - Madam Speaker, this is a deal that will deliver for taxpayers, for Tasmanian patients and for the people -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, under standing order 45, relevance. The minister is continually avoiding the question. We do not need to know that it is a good deal, just some details of what has been negotiated and what terms there are for the people of Tasmania.

Madam SPEAKER - You will have to find another mechanism for asking that question. That is not a point of order and you know how I feel about standing order 45. Please proceed, minister.

Ms COURTNEY - Madam Speaker, as I was outlining, Healthscope has been named as the preferred operator. There are continuing negotiations about the contracts happening at the moment so that we can close the finer details that are being conducted with appropriate probity because obviously these types of arrangements would have commercial matters involved. I stand here today and say that we will see more capital investment, we will see better integrated services, we will see an emergency department that is open 24/7. This is good news and a good outcome for Tasmanians.