Northern Territory Government has been asked to return over $18 million in Commonwealth funds. The amount was spent on building a medi-hotel at Royal Darwin Hospital. Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has demanded the return from the territory government.
The intention of the Federal Government behind building the 100-bed facility was to house bush patients needing treatment at the hospital.
However, the Territory Government gave up, saying it is not viable as it could not afford the estimated annual $5.5 million running costs for the medi-hotel.
It is now using the facility to house people detained under new mandatory alcohol rehabilitation laws. Only two people have been sent there so far to undergo three-month compulsory rehab programs.
Health Minister Robyn Lambley said during the announcement of the decision of using the medi-hotel as a rehab centre that the CLP Government could not afford purpose-built rehabilitation centers as it had said it would in the run-up to last year's election.
Nearly $100m a year is estimated to cost for the mandatory alcohol rehabilitation scheme.
Plibersek wrote a letter to Lambley asking to return the $18.6 million to the Commonwealth by the end of next month as Federal Government will reinvest the money in other health programs in the Darwin and Palmerston areas.