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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1898 ..

Mr Corbell: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think the Minister misunderstands the question from Mr Hargreaves. The question was not about the process of negotiation. Mr Hargreaves simply asked whether or not a 14 per cent increase in pay for salaried medical officers had been negotiated and whether the savings generated through service program changes in the hospital would contribute to the pay increase.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order, Mr Corbell. Resume your seat. You are just repeating the question.

MR MOORE: I gave the Estimates Committee quite specific details on how the contracts worked, and there is no change from those details.

MR HARGREAVES: I ask a supplementary question. The Minister has not come even close to the question. He just talked about where he was going to get money from, not about whether it was going to be negotiated at all. I suggest that the Minister check Hansard for the question. I will ask my supplementary question slowly, because last time the Minister missed my question. Does the Minister consider it appropriate that, at a time when services for disabled people are being reduced to save money, funds are being ploughed into a 14 per cent pay increase, backdated more than 12 months, for salaried medical officers, one of whom is in charge of those very services?

MR MOORE: The premise upon which Mr Hargreaves asks the question is simply wrong. We are not cutting services to people. In fact, we are providing people who need rehabilitation with a private taxi service from their door to the door of the hospital, with the exception of the people who are able to use public transport. If they are able to use public transport or a private method of transport, then it is appropriate that the money that would have been spent there be spent in other health areas. I am not embarrassed about it at all. As I said yesterday, I am very proud to be associated with an improvement of services for the vast majority of people who need assistance in their rehabilitation. This is an improvement in service, and it is a great saving at the same time. In other words, in your parlance, it is a win-win situation. The quarter of a million dollars that will be saved in this way can be spent in useful ways to improve the health of people.

A simplistic approach is suggested by Mr Hargreaves in his question. He implies that we should cut the salaries of salaried specialists and VMOs. We recognise that there is competition throughout Australia for these sorts of positions and, because it suits the needs of the hospital, we seek an appropriate balance between VMOs and salaried specialists. In my opinion that means an increase in the number of salaried specialists we have employed. We are ensuring that we are able to keep salaried specialists in the hospital to do a fantastic job.

Mr Hargreaves: The disabled are paying for that 14 per cent.

MR MOORE: When those opposite pick on the salaried specialists in this way - - -

Mr Hargreaves: You are using the disabled to pay for this 14 per cent pay rise.

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