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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3214 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

I ask the Minister whether it is true also that the Industrial Relations Commission said:

In negotiating the replacement agreement the parties were obliged by the terms of clause 17 of the Nurses Agreement to conduct a review of rates of pay. This obligation has not been met.

Is it not true, Minister, that the Canberra Hospital has failed to meet this obligation under the nurses agreement, as noted by the industrial relations commissioner? Therefore, why has the Minister decided to proceed towards certification of the replacement agreement, contrary to the strong recommendations of the industrial relations commissioner?

MR MOORE: Thank you, Mr Berry, for that question. Indeed, the Canberra Hospital had not met its obligation, nor had the Australian Nursing Federation met their similar obligation, on this particular matter, and it was drawn to their attention by the industrial relations commissioner yesterday in a very strong recommendation. The Canberra Hospital immediately responded and said, "Of course we need to meet that obligation before the agreement expires". My recollection is that it expires on 23 February next year. The Canberra Hospital, in its response, immediately invited the Nursing Federation to join them to meet the conditions of that EBA and to make sure that that matter is resolved before an agreement is finally signed off. Parallel to that process, the Canberra Hospital has decided to proceed with the request of nurses - - -

Mr Berry: Ignore the commissioner.

MR MOORE: Ignore the request of nurses? No, we are not going to do that, Mr Berry. The hospital has decided to proceed with the request of nurses to be part of a salary packaging mechanism. Mr Berry, I think it is important for you to understand this. The Canberra Hospital found a way to provide its staff with something in the order of a 10 per cent - it depends on the circumstances - - -

Mr Berry: That is good.

MR MOORE: Do you not want to hear this, Mr Berry?

Mr Berry: I said that that is good.

MR MOORE: Exactly. It is something in the order of a 10 per cent agreement. When they put out the information to members in the hospital, quite a number of nurses, in the order of 100, contacted the hotline and said, "Why can we not be part of this as well? We want to be in on this as well because it looks like a great deal". They asked a series of questions. The hospital responded by saying, "That is a reasonable thing to do and this will set up a framework".

A series of things happened. First of all, in the agreement that is proposed, the nurses and all other staff at the hospital will get something in the order of a 10 per cent increase in their take-home salary through salary packaging. Secondly, they will get guaranteed security of tenure. Plenty of nurses would like that. Thirdly, they will agree to a framework to be established as to how they will make productivity gains and how they will share in those productivity gains. These are all very positive things.

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