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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3078 ..

MR MOORE: Thank you for that question, Mr Berry. There was a series of questions. The first question asked why I am so blinkered about Liberal governments and the way they handle health. It is very simple, Mr Berry. I sat on the crossbenches and I watched how Labor did it. When I watched how Labor did it - specifically, Mr Berry, how you did it - compared to how it was done by other people, I have to tell you, Mr Berry, that it was done much better by other people than by you.

The second question asked why I am so blinkered to poor working conditions. National benchmarks indicate that nurses in the ACT have a whole series of working conditions that put them well ahead of their colleagues in the other States. But nobody can take away from how hard our nurses work in the hospitals. The structures within the hospital and the way they work within those structures mean that the outcomes are nowhere near as efficient as they should be, and that is something that we want to tackle.

I am hoping that as we enter into the enterprise bargaining agreement with nurses and we enter our discussions on those things over the next few weeks we will be able to offer much better working conditions for the nurses. Mr Berry, when we have the opportunity to offer better working conditions to nurses, I hope that will have your support. I will be very disappointed, Mr Berry, if it does not.

Mr Berry, I am not blinkered about waiting lists; just the opposite. In fact, the waiting list worries me greatly. One of the reasons I welcome an examination by the Health and Community Care Committee is to see whether they can come up with more ideas than those currently being put into effect by the hospital and those coming from the Department of Health. Why am I blinkered about lost job opportunities? Because of bed closures. In response to a question I had from Mr Stanhope earlier and in response to the question about job opportunities lost because of bed closures, I have to say that I think that bed closures and bed openings are a management issue for the hospital.

Mr Berry: What about jobs?

MR MOORE: No, the real issue is throughput. We have to ensure that management is such that we increase the throughput. That is the challenge before us. The most important thing is that I am open-minded, not bound to ideology. When I look back over the past at how Mr Berry managed the hospital system and how it has been managed since that time, the contrast is quite extraordinary. I certainly do not want to take it back to the bad old Berry days.

Schools - Maintenance

MR RUGENDYKE: My question is to the Minister for Education, Mr Stefaniak. Minister, today I received a copy of a letter which was sent to all parents of students at Forrest school in relation to voluntary contributions. The letter outlined details of a revamp to the voluntary contributions system in order to meet maintenance projects that will not be funded by the department. I would like to know why the Government refuses to commit itself to undertaking improvements at ageing schools.

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