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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 2503..


Nurses-enterprise agreement

MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. Minister, there has been a lot discussion recently about the negotiations surrounding the nurses enterprise agreement. Minister, can you advise the Assembly how the ACT government's current wage offer to ACT nurses compares to recent outcomes in other jurisdictions?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. I think it is a timely question, given the current debate around the adequacy or otherwise of the ACT government's current pay offer to nurses. I thought it was useful, Mr Speaker, to take the opportunity to put on the record the ACT government's position.

Mr Speaker, let us look at the whole range of the nursing workforce, starting with enrolled nurses. Enrolled nurses in the ACT, on the date of certification of the new agreement, will receive a salary of $42,573 at the top of the range. Compare that with the agreements which have recently been signed up in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. In Victoria, enrolled nurses will receive a maximum of $42,453 or just under a hundred or so dollars less than what the ACT government is offering; in South Australia, only $40,851 or a full $21/2 thousand less; and in Tasmania, $41,937 or approximately $1,000 per annum less. The ACT has put enrolled nurses in a very strong position. In fact, these nurses will be the best paid enrolled nurses in the country, when you look at this current pay offer.

In addition, Mr Speaker, we are proposing a new level, enrolled nurse level 2, with a factored rate of $40,000 per annum, rising to $43,286 after certification after two years. Compare that with the EN special grade in New South Wales, the equivalent rank, which is only $39,504 or a difference of close to $4,000 per annum. That is just in our lowest paid, lowest level of the nursing workforce.

In relation to registered nurses, which of course constitute the bulk of the nursing workforce in the ACT, I am very pleased to advise members that the pay rise for new graduate registered nurses has gone from 10.1 per cent to 121/2 per cent. The pay rise for registered nurses at the top of the salary scale remains at an 18.4 per cent wage increase. This will see registered nurses level 1 receiving $59,454 after two years. Compare this, Mr Speaker, with the other states: in Victoria, only $45,189 or a full $15,100 difference; in South Australia, $57,000 or approximately a $2,000 difference in favour of the ACT; and in Tasmania, $56,000, again another $21/2 thousand in favour of nurses in the ACT.

Mr Speaker, these are just some examples of the rates of pay which the ACT government is now offering to the nursing workforce. It is offering a comprehensive range of conditions of service as well as rates of pay which will make our nursing workforce one of the most attractive in the country in terms of employment conditions and rates of pay.

I would also like to quickly address the issue of higher-level nurses, Mr Speaker. When you look at this, again, we perform very well. In regard to registered nurses level 3, a significant area in our nursing workforce, our wage offer will see a top-of-the-range payment of $74,062 after two years. Compare this with the other states: in Victoria, only $71,407 or a $3,000 differential in favour of ACT nurses; in South Australia, $76,356-


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