FOR SIX YEARS
PARK HOSPITAL AGREEMENT REACHED Agreement ..that the 39th General Hospital at Cornwall Park should be used by the Auckland Hospital for a period of six years was reached at a conference this morning, at which were present the Minister of Works, Mr. Sempie, the Minister of Health, Mr. Nordmeyer, the AttorneyGeneral, Mr. Mason, and representatives of the Cornwall Park Trustees, the Auckland Hospital Board, Auckland local bodies, and Auckland members of Parliament.
The agreement, the terms of which, .were proposed by Sir James Gurison on behalf of the trustees, will be written into a Statute which will be presented to Parliament in the fh-st week of the next session. This undertaking was given by Mr. Semple, who presided. It covers the granting of occupancy of 75 acres of Cornwall Park now in U.S. use to the Auckland Hospital Board for a definitely limited percod of six years, with a payment of £37 10/ monthly by the Hospital Board to the trustees as rental. The board has the right to terminate its occupancy at an earlier date.
The Government, on its part, has 'agreed to remove all buildings from the land at or before the end of the six-year period and to carry out works of restoration to the area in terms of the original agreement made between the trustees and the Minister of Works,- the late Mr. Armstrong, on September 20, 1943, relating to the other areas of the'park at present in army occupation. It was agreed also that no further buildings or equipment would be erected on the park, and that any further expenditure on existing buildings, or any life left in the present buildings would not be urged as a reason for extending occupation beyond : the period of five years.
•, ,-v -- Rebuilding of Hospital The Government and the board undertake also that nothing will be allowed to delay the Auckland Hospital. Board's building programme, and will take steps to ensure that the proposed hospital buildings will be ready for use by the Hospital Board, so as to enable the park land,to be vacated not later than the month of December. 1950. - .... . The term originally proposed by Sir James was five .years, but this was amended to six years on the statement of the Commissioner of Works, Mr. James Fletcher, and Mr. Semple that they did not think that the hospital programme could be completed in under that period. The conference opened in stormy fashion, with a sharp conflict between the Mayor of Auckland, Mr. Allum, and the Commissioner of Works, Mr. Fletcher, the Mayor walking out of the conference. After that discussion was confined to the agreement proposed by the trustees.
It was revealed during the course of discussion that the Cornwall Park Hospital (39th General) cost just on £1,000,000 sterling to erect. Opening the conference, Mr. Semple said that although he understood that there had been much discussion about the use of the military hospital at Cornwall Park, he personally had had little to do with the matter. It had got about that the Government was trying to force this institution upon the people. That was not so. However, the institution, which had cost nearly £1,000,000, had fallen vacant, and it was known also that on account of a shortage of beds the Public Hospital needed the extra accommodation. It seemed a pity to destroy the 39th General when it was so needed.
The only person he had discussed the matter with was the legal adviser to the trustees, and that had been confined to a discussion as to whether the site should be held by proclamation or legislation. It had been put to him earlier that it should be taken over by legislation. To that he had told the Commissioner of Works that he did not agree. He thought that, the occupancy of the Cornwall Park Hospital by the Auckland Hospital Board should be arranged by agreement and not by either proclamation or legislation.
"Then the Row Started" The legal adviser to the trustees had submitted that it should be by legislation, as the trustees could not give voluntary consent. He, as Minister, realised that the trustees had a sacred duty to perform in preserving their trust and that it would be far better to relieve them of the responsibility by taking the land by legislation. He had agreed to draft a clause, "and then the row started."
The Government,-he said, had no intention- of forcing the hospital on the people of Auckland, but they had all the sympathy in the world for the people who needed hospital treatment and for • whom there were no beds. i"I am accused of being the chief burglar," he said. "I have been ridiculed, criticised, castigated and cartooned—not that I worry about that, —but I want to say to the reporters of the papers here^that the people who said those things told wilful and criminal lies."
Mr. Semple emphasised once again that he had had little to do with the dispute. If the people of Auckland wanted the hospital, it was for them to say so, because if they didn't want and did not consider there was a need for it for hospital purposes he would have a demolition gang at work on the-hospital early in the New Year. They were not going to be abused and ridiculed when they were innocent. The Silverstream Hospital, in Wellington, had proved a blessing. It had been seen that if this institution at Cornwall Park could be used for a period of years until decent hospital accommodation could be built here it would be similarly a blessing. When the Government had been told that the trustees could not consent to the taking of the property it was ready to. take the responsibility from'; their shoulders.-' -li it I came to a question, he personally would prefer to see the site used for the sick rather than for sheepr or a golf course. He would give his vote that way any time if the place was needed for a hospital for sick people. "We are not going to argue about it for five minutes," said Mr. Semple. "We want the people to say what they want. This kind of stuff (holding up a newspaper ' clipping) is wicked.": -. .
Following the incident which led to the withdrawal of the Mayor, Mr. Allum, the Commissioner of Works, Mr. Fletcher, began an outline of the history of the hospital, pointing out how it was originally intended as a. 500-bed hospital but- was - extended, at the wish",-of the" American authorities, first to 1000 beds arid then 2000 beds, at a cost of just under £1,000,000 sterling. He was interrupted by the Attorney-General, Mr. Mason, who held-4hat the conference was interested .-only in the present-position. Mr. Fletcher then outlined the steps
leading to the present position. When it had been discussed as to whether the Auckland Hospital Board should have the use of the buildings, a 12-year lease had been suggested. Mr. Moody had said that that was too long, and had suggested 10 years, with - the right of surrender at an earlier date.
Answering questions as to whether there was a need for the use of this hospital for civilian hospital purposes. Mr. Moody said the need was absolute and definite. Extension of Time Agreed To To Mr. Goldstine, Mr. Moody said that there would be a need for the hospital even . if Middlemore was used. It was intended to use the Cornwall Hospital for the chronic sick and Middlemore as an active hospital. The Cornwall Hospital could not be. in their opinion, operated economically, but they wanted the use of it because of the need for beds.
In answer to a further question by Mr. Goldstine, Mr. Fletcher said that the suggestion of a 15-year period was his responsibility. That period had not been proposed either by the trustees or by the Government.
Sir James Gunson came forward then to express thanks on behalf of the others- representatives Of the trust, to the Ministers present and to the Prime Minister for their helpful attitude. "We are not , concerned with the past," he said. "We want a business-like and sensible conclusion." He then put forward a written agreement which, he said, the trustees would be prepared to accept. This was done, he said, following the. clear declaration of hospital needs by Mr. Moody. The trustees had come with a receptive mind to discuss the position. Mr. Semple: That's a splendid spirit.
The conference discussed the proposals at length, mainly on the question of the length of time that would be needed to carry out the building plans of the Hospital Board. Following statements by Mr. Semple and the Minister of Health, Mr. Nordmeyer, that the Government would sooner have a definite term of six years fixed rather than to leave it at five years, with the possibility of having to ask for an extension.
Sir James Gunson had a brief conference with Messrs. A. E. Bollard and F. A. Hellaby, who also represented the Trust, and announced that they were prepared to make the ternj: six years, instead:: of five« Mi'i'4. J. Goldstirie, who, as' Mayor of Gne Tree Hill arid chairman of the Suburban Local Bodies' Association, had protested the need for a definite limiting. term to the agreement • in• order to • satisfy the public that the park would be cleared as soon.as possible and that the hospital building plan would be proceeded with immediately, said'that he was satisfied.with this result.V,-
At the conclusion, Mr. Semple : expressed his congratulations to the trustees on the helpful attitude they had shown and the solution to the problem they had proposed. It was a pity, he said, that a conference had not been held in the first place. It Avas a crime that such a thing should have been made a political football. ■ ; < ■;, :■'■■■'■■'::■«
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FOR SIX YEARS, Auckland Star, Volume LXXV, Issue 298, 16 December 1944
FOR SIX YEARS Auckland Star, Volume LXXV, Issue 298, 16 December 1944
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