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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5250..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

The government acted decisively, and with strong support, to provide additional respite care services for people in the community. Any suggestion that unmet need could be automatically eliminated is simplistic in the extreme. It avoids the ongoing major policy dilemmas that governments in all developed countries face in meeting need in their communities.

Visiting medical officers

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Minister for Health. The 2003-04 version of the local Labor Party platform states, "Labor will encourage and assist membership and participation in trade unions by all workers."That means all workers, not just employees. Minister, the Visiting Medical Officers Association has applied to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to become a union and you have opposed the application, claiming that VMOs are contractors, not employees. Minister, why are you opposing the VMO's application, given that your party's platform provides that Labor will encourage and assist membership and participation in trade unions by all workers?

MR CORBELL: I do not think that I am going to face censure from branch council of the ACT branch of the Australian Labor Party for opposing visiting medical officers seeking to become a trade union. VMOs are contractors who provide services to the ACT government. We have established, I think, a very successful framework for negotiating contract terms and conditions with visiting medical officers. The government thinks that visiting medical officers are being treated justly and in a way that properly recognises the skills, experience and great capacity they bring to our public hospital system and the government does not believe that people who are in a contract arrangement with the ACT government should necessarily be in a position to be able to form a trade union. Ultimately, that is a matter for the Industrial Relations Commission to decide. If the Industrial Relations Commission does chose that visiting medical officers should be deemed to be employees, we will welcome them into the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation, which is, of course, the trade union for salaried doctors in our public hospital system.

MR STEFANIAK: I have a supplementary question. Minister, why don't you consider that contractors are workers in line with the provisions of your platform?

MR CORBELL: As I have made clear, the use of the term "worker"is, I would argue, in the context of people employed by the government. VMOs are engaged on a contract basis to provide services for the government and the situation is not the same.

Retailing-bulky goods space

MRS DUNNE: My question is directed to the Minister for Planning, Mr Corbell. Minister, on 27 November in this place, I asked you:

... was the information that you intended to sell 20,000 square metres of bulky goods retailing space in the Gungahlin town centre made available to bidders at the auction of [bulky goods retailing] land in Mitchell on 19 November?

In reply, you said that you were "not aware of the information that has been provided".


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