A member of the federal Labor Party has accused mining billionaire Gina Rinehart of withdrawing $175 million of funding from a Darwin cancer centre because the Country Liberal Party lost the Northern Territory election.
During House of Representatives’ question time on Thursday, NT Labor MP Luke Gosling pushed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ask Ms Rinehart if she was still committed to the centre.
In 2014 Ms Rinehart approached the NT government offering to build a private, 20-bed hospital for cancer treatment and robotic surgery.
The hospital would provide at least two beds for local patients with the remainder for wealthy overseas patients.
Ms Rinehart was reported to be receiving central, prime and waterside Darwin land in return for funding the centre.
Speaker Tony Smith deemed Mr Gosling’s question “out of order”.
Watch the question:
“Is the Prime Minister aware that Gina Rinehart offered $175 million for a charitable cancer centre in Darwin but has withdrawn that offer as a response to the defeat of Adam Giles as Chief Minister?,” Mr Gosling asked.
News Corp reported on Thursday former NT chief minister Adam Giles saying he believed the project was “done and dusted”.
“She was doing it because of me. I would say 99.99 per cent it’s dead.”
A spokesperson for Ms Rinehart did not clarify whether the funding had been withdrawn, but rather wrote:
“This project was enthusiastically and well led by the leadership of the former [Giles] government, in whom Mrs Rinehart placed both trust and confidence, but as of yet we haven’t heard anything from the new [Labor] government, so are unable to properly comment as to the land, approvals and hence hospital project’s future.”
The New Daily contacted the Country Liberal Party for comment. A CLP spokesperson said it was not a matter for the CLP to comment on, but one for Mr Giles.
Mr Gosling told The New Daily his community was sick of the NT’s health funding dramas.
“It shouldn’t be up to billionaires to fund hospitals, it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health to keep their promises,” Mr Gosling said.
“Local residents are sick and tired of health promises from the Liberals which don’t eventuate, and this is just another example.”
It would be a for-profit facility, he confirmed.
“She’s got a foundation but it would be for-profit,” Mr Giles said. “I negotiated a minimum of two beds for Territory patients, and could have got up to four. She was still keen to go ahead, but only if I was there.”
Ironically, Ms Rinehart’s new media and strategic advisor – former Coalition member for Indi Sophie Mirabella – has also had her own controversial health funding pledge saga.
Before the 2016 federal election (while campaigning to win Indi back), Ms Mirabella alleged the electorate lost $10 million in health funding when voters replaced her with independent Cathy McGowan at the 2013 election.