Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 8 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2193..
MR SESELJA: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, last week Lyndal Ryan of the cleaners union raised concerns about cleaning standards in our hospitals. Ms Ryan said, "We desperately need more cleaners and that's something that can be done immediately if there was a will."Minister, what have you done to tackle the concerns raised by the cleaners?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Seselja for the question. As Mr Seselja would know, the cleaning services at the Canberra hospital are provided by an external contractor with the standards of cleaning required as part of that contract. We use the New South Wales health cleaning standards as the basis of the cleaning plans that are in place at TCH.
The liquor, hospitality and miscellaneous workers union, the LHMU, wrote to me, I think at the end of July, asking the ACT government to adopt the Victorian public hospital cleaning standards, which we are currently looking at, and I will respond to the union when I get that advice.
We have a contract in place—I think with City Group—and the contract is up, I think, in November next year. As part of that contract, we pay an amount to have the hospital cleaned, but we do not specify the number of cleaners that have to be employed as part of the cleaning contract. That is the essence of the dispute that essentially is between City Group and the LHMU. They are of the view that there are not enough cleaners. City Group is of the view that there are enough cleaners. I have had a look in terms of complaints made about the cleanliness of the hospital, and I think there have been 16 complaints over the past year, maybe just longer than a year. That seems to be fairly standard in terms of previous years.
I have met with the LHMU on this matter as well and have urged them—in fact, ACT Health have brokered a number of meetings between City Group and the LHMU to seek to resolve the dispute between the two of them and, in fact, even encouraged them to take it further. But it is not before any industrial court or tribunal.
For us it is very difficult in terms of the contract, when the contractor is compliant with the contract, to seek an extra condition within the terms of that contract when there just does not seem to be grounds for it. I will write to the LHMU about the Victorian cleaning standards once I have taken some advice on that. They did ask us to have the New South Wales cleaning standards as well. That is what we have and now they have said they want the Victorian ones.
So I am just taking some advice on what that means and then I think we need to work our way forward for the renewal of the next contract in November. But at this stage there are just no grounds for the government, based on complaints about standards in the hospital, to seek anything further from City Group.