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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3216 ..

MR BERRY: I ask a supplementary question. Is your endorsement of the Canberra Hospital's display of arrogance in respect of the Industrial Relations Commission's strong recommendation merely a cynical strategy to manufacture a dispute with the nurses union and the nurses to assist you in making savings in your hard-pressed health budget?

MR MOORE: Mr Berry, you got some of that right and much of it very wrong. No, it is not a cynical attempt. The part you got right is that we have a very hard-pressed budget. In a hard-pressed budget it is very difficult, nigh impossible, to find a 10 per cent salary increase for staff. We think we have found a way, but it is not a cynical attempt, nor is it an attempt to force industrial dispute. Mr Speaker, I would like to avoid industrial dispute. I mentioned that I wrote to Colleen Duff earlier today. Amongst other things, I wrote the following in reply to her letter of last night:

In regard to your comment that you would consider industrial action on the basis that the ballot is proceeding, can I suggest that it is very odd to talk of industrial action over an issue of staff having a direct say in their affairs. Industrial action is not warranted and only causes patients to suffer. I urge you to choose dialogue above disruption, as you and the management have been doing successfully over recent months.

Mr Speaker, that is not the language of somebody who is keen on industrial disputation. Indeed, I went on:

I note your comment that you would consider running a "vote no" campaign over the Agreement. I think that it would be very regrettable for the staff, including your members, for you to do that. I urge you to consider carefully the value of this agreement (not only jobs security but also the significant increases in take-home pay) for your members.

This is a matter that I think we need to resolve together if we possibly can. The only interest I have in doing this is making sure the hospital works as effectively as it can, that the nurses get an improved security of tenure, that they get improved take-home salary and that they get a framework in which they can negotiate for later productivity. Some people have been saying that this is just a system that will mean there are no more pay rises in the future. On the contrary, it provides a framework for those very things to happen. This is a good deal for the nurses, who are working very hard in the hospital to support the ill in the ACT. I am very keen to see what I can do to support them, even if it means that I do things differently from the Australian Nursing Federation in the ACT.

Teacher's Explanation of Santa Claus

MR OSBORNE: My question is to the Education Minister, Mr Stefaniak. Minister, my office has been contacted by some distressed parents of children from a Year 2 Tuggeranong primary school class. Apparently last week, during a discussion on Christmas, a teacher felt it was her moral duty to regale the class on the fact that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. Believe it or not, Mr Stefaniak, some parents took exception to this. Apparently the teacher's explanation for her action was that she wanted

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