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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3370 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

of course, is assistance with your burgeoning health budget problems. Is it not about time that you accepted absolutely and unequivocally the umpire's recommendation in order that patient care and safety once again can become the priority of the hospital, rather than your squabble with the nurses? Do not give me this business that you have accepted the commissioner's recommendation without preventing the process from continuing. When will you stop the process from continuing and accept the commissioner's strong recommendation?

Mr Smyth: I take a point of order. It is quite clear in the standing orders that you cannot debate an issue in asking a question. The member should either put his question or sit down.

MR BERRY: You would not know; sit down.

MR SPEAKER: Order! I uphold the point of order, Mr Berry.

MR BERRY: What was the point of order?

MR SPEAKER: You were asking a question.

MR BERRY: I am asking a question.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, but you must not debate it.

MR BERRY: I am not debating it. I am just giving a preamble to it. The question-in-chief, I might put it.

MR SPEAKER: Have you asked your question?

MR BERRY: I have finished. I am just waiting for the Minister's answer.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you. And you, Mr Moore, are not permitted to express an opinion in your answer.

MR MOORE: Yes. This issue is about patient care and safety. Mr Berry, I was not the one who, in dealing with patient care and safety, wrote to the chief executive officer of the Canberra Hospital and said:

Please be advised that a skeleton staff will not be left at TCH during the stoppage, so you will need to make alternative arrangements for the care of patients at TCH.

I was not the one who wrote those words, Mr Speaker. In fact, the person who wrote those words and signed the letter was Colleen Duff, secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation. She would not put in a skeleton staff during the stoppage. Fortunately for patients and fortunately for patient care, the majority of nurses appear to have a different view from that of the Australian Nursing Federation.

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