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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 2289..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

In addition, Mr Smyth should be aware that the nurses union pay claim on the table is for 20 per cent-20 per cent across the board; that is the union's pay claim-so I am not quite sure to whom you have been speaking, Mr Smyth. But I can assure you that the nurses union's pay claim is 20 per cent across the board. That is not something that the government can accede to.

But the government has put in place a very generous offer-an offer that means that nurses receive some of the best rates of pay in the country. Enrolled nurses and registered nurses level one will be the best paid nurses in the country if they accept this agreement. Registered nurses levels two, three, four and five will be amongst the best paid in the country, with a differential of only a couple of hundred dollars over the period of a three-year agreement.

These pay outcomes, as offered by the government, are considerably better than the pay outcomes that have been offered by other jurisdictions and agreed to by the relevant branch of the ANF in those jurisdictions, particularly in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, where the nurses unions-

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The focus of the question was not the pay increases, which the minister seems to want to spruik about; the question is about the other things that impact on the workers-their conditions and what they are signing up to.

MR SPEAKER: It is not a point of order. The minister is responding to the question, Mr Smyth. We have been through this before.

Mr Smyth: I agree. We do not want to talk about the pay; he wants to talk about the pay. It is the actual conditions. He is not addressing the substance of the question, which is about the conditions. The relevance is the point of order.

MR CORBELL: I know that Mr Smyth is very unhappy talking about pay conditions. But you have only to look at his government's and his party's legacy: a nought per cent pay increase was the outcome of the agreement as it affected 1999-2000. Zero-a big fat zero-from the Liberal Party when it came to the previous offer that they had on the table for the nursing workforce. And what did they deliver in 2000-01? In 2000-01 they delivered the very generous pay increase of one per cent!

MR SPEAKER: Come back to the point of the question.

MR CORBELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In other jurisdictions the Australian Nursing Federation has accepted pay increases that are significantly less than that offered by the ACT government in its most recent offer.

Of course, the other conditions are matters for negotiation. I can assure the Assembly that the ACT government negotiating team is dealing with all conditions and terms of employment in the pay off. It is not just about the rates of pay; it is about conditions of employment as well. We are working through workload issues, better retainment issues, and issues to do with professional development. Quite frankly, any suggestion that we are not is simply wrong.


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