Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 November 2018) . . Page.. 4929 ..
to deal with the ants on the floor. She said to me, “This is a regular occurrence in the ICU.” The minister can try to say the same as she did yesterday: that she does not believe this to be true. I am pretty used to being called a liar, but I think those opposite know that when I bring something to this place I do not make it up. I have never made it up. The staff in that place deserve better working conditions.
The results of my long stay were twofold. I was very well looked after by doctors. The nurses gave me everything they had. But I am here to make absolutely clear to you that the front-line workers, yet again, under this government, are more stressed than they have ever been before. They sat on my bed and they told me that they do not know how they will cope. The minister is neither truly aware of this fact nor sufficiently concerned.
There is a very unhelpful and sinister development in the government’s attitude towards their front-line workers. I have seen it in the firies; I have seen it in the ambos; now I am seeing it here. When asked to face the fact that front-line workers are struggling, are scared to voice their opinions, are suffering the effects of both unhealthy culture and overwork, the answer of those here and those in high places is that what the workers are saying is not true. It is true. It happened with the letter to the press. The answer from the minister that we heard earlier this year was astounding. She said, “We are responding, but there is not a problem.” You cannot have it both ways, minister. The nurses know and the nurses hear this attitude coming from the minister. It is a complete failure of a Labor government that goes around pretending to care about workers.
This government and this minister have become like the worst big business owner. Its response to the workers straining under the weight that this government has put on their shoulders is: “They are lying.” We had the same thing here yesterday. When I was a patient in the women’s and children’s hospital—I will repeat it again today—I was told by one of the very worried nurses, “They got one of the people who wrote the letter to the press. They are on the way out, but they did not get the other one.”
I say to members opposite that every fibre of your being should be deeply ashamed that it has come to this. It is totally unacceptable. It is an absolute disgrace and a judgement on this minister that this is what I was told. What is worse, when I put it to the minister yesterday her answer was: “I do not believe that happened.” I can cope with being called a liar, although most people around me have learned that I do not make things up. The information I bring here is not made up; it is very real. Ultimately, it is generally proven as we go on with our debates.
This is because I listen. I go out into the community, I sit down and I listen. I think the minister is stretching things to say that it is not true. Those people have no reason to lie. They have nothing more but danger and stress to gain by telling me and others what their plight is. These nurses have never been so overworked in their lives and they are full-on not coping with what the government is doing to them. That was my 14-day experience in the hospital this year.
Let us look at the women’s and children’s hospital. It was opened in 2012 but already does not have enough capacity. It is the tertiary hospital in the region, as the minister