Greens move to protect public hospital land from NSW government’s $97m cash grab
Media release: 5 November 2014
The Greens are calling on Health Minister Jillian Skinner to immediately halt the sale or lease of the southern campus at Royal North Shore Hospital. The community and staff must be provided with the opportunity to be involved in the decision-making about the future of the site.
A motion moved by the Greens in the NSW Upper House this afternoon expressed concern about the impacts of the proposed land divestment on health service provision and the lack of consultation with RNSH staff (see full text of motion below).
Consideration of the motion was blocked by the Government whip.
Greens NSW MP John Kaye, who moved the motion, said that the Expressions of Interest process announced by Health Infrastructure in September showed that the Liberals and Nationals government has failed to learn from the mistakes of their Labor predecessors.
Dr Kaye said: “This is history repeating itself, with appalling consequences for the Royal North Shore Hospital staff and the community.
“Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s 2011 temporary moratorium on any sale or long term lease of land at the site has come to a crashing halt.
“Predictably the Minister is blaming Labor for the decision to commence the EOI process. Through a spokesperson the government has argued that the approval for a land sale or lease to pay for the hospital’s much-needed upgrade was granted in 2006.
“The RNSH redevelopment has been one disaster after another because both governments of both sides have not adequately consulted with the people who actually work there and know what it is required.
“If there has been any budget blow-out in the RNSH re-development it certainly is not the fault of the people of NSW, but they will bear the costs of this short-sighted grab for cash.
“Selling or leasing a significant portion of public hospital land as the state faces growing health challenges made no sense in 2011 and it still doesn’t in 2014.
“Jillian Skinner will repeat her line that doctors and staff have been involved in the Masterplan discussions but she is merely obfuscating.
“The real issue is that the Medical Staff Council were not told about plans to pillage the hospital’s lands to pay for the redevelopment until the EOI process was unilaterally announced by Health Infrastructure in September.
“Doctors involved in discussions about the future of the Southern Campus were aware that commercial activity may be involved, but land divestment is a vastly different story and it should have been disclosed much earlier.
“The EOI proposal will block any future expansion of the delivery of health services on this section of the site. It will restrict further redevelopment of the site when the existing buildings reach the end of their serviceable life.
“The 2011 RNSH land sale proposal triggered community outrage. A petition of more than 14,000 signatures was debated in the Legislative Assembly of the NSW parliament.
“The Greens felt it was vital that the NSW parliament consider this latest attempt by a greedy state government to hive off sections of publicly-owned land at RNSH.
“The Greens will continue to support the Medical Staff Council’s bid to stop the EOI process from progressing and to work with the community to keep the whole of RNSH land in public hands.
“We will be calling on the Minister to stand up to NSW Treasury and its shoddy attempt to force RNSH to sacrifice its future to pay for its own redevelopment,” said Dr Kaye.
For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455
Notice of Motion: Royal North Shore Hospital Divestment
5 November 2014
Dr John Kaye to move:
1. That this House notes that:
a. In September 2014 Health Infrastructure announced an expression of interest process for the sale or long term (99 year) lease of the southern campus at Royal North Shore Hospital to a private developer.
b. The call for expressions of interest sought private developers and service providers to provide office space for NSW Health and operate the support services listed in the hospital redevelopment’s masterplan including childcare and accommodation for patients, relatives and staff.
c. The hospital’s Medical Staff Council was not informed of the expression of interest process
d. Land divestment was not discussed with doctors during the development of the masterplan.
e. The Local Health District Board was not informed of the timing of the EOI process, according to a Sydney Morning Herald article dated 5 September 2014.
f. Health Minister Jillian Skinner has indicated that
i. the NSW government is seeking $97 million from Royal North Shore Hospital to recoup some of the cost of the hospital’s redevelopment, and
ii. the plan to sell or provide a 99-year lease for the hospitals’ southern campus was approved in 2006 under the former Labor government.
g. This is the not the first time that the Medical Staff Council at RNSH has been sidelined by a state government intent on privatising a part of the site for short-term financial gain.
h. In 2011, RNSH staff, patients and relatives marched on NSW parliament and delivered a petition to the current Liberal Government with 14,962 signatures requesting that there be no sale of land at RNSH.
i. The Minister responded to the 2011 petition by announcing a “freeze on land sale until a campus plan at Royal North Shore Hospital had been developed”.
j. The Medical Staff Council at RNSH has objected to the latest proposed divestment and is calling for the EIO process to be stopped in order to keep all of the RNSH site in public hands now and into the future.
k. NSW Treasury’s requirement that the RNSH redevelopment be paid for by selling off or divesting a portion of the site to a private developer appears to be unique to RNSH. Other upgrades to NSW public teaching and referring hospitals including Westmead and Liverpool have not been subject to the same demand.
2. That this House expresses its opposition to the proposed divestment because:
a) The proposal hands over a significant portion of public hospital land and vital support services to the private sector
b) The proposal will block any future expansion of the delivery of health services on this section of the site;
c) The NSW government has refused to listen to the community’s wishes that no land divestment take place at RNSH as expressed by the 14,962 signatures tabled in the NSW parliament in 2011; and
d) medical and other staff at RNSH have not been consulted about the EOI process.
3. That this House calls on Health Minister Jillian Skinner to provide the opportunity for the community to be involved in the decision-making about the future of the provision of health services at RNSH by immediately halting all processes to sell or lease the southern campus.
Greens NSW MP
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John Kaye’s office is proudly 100% unionised and union-active.
This office pays respect to the Gadigal and the other Aboriginal peoples of NSW and acknowledges their ownership of this land.