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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2420 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

The Assembly should also be aware that motions are useful for expressing its objectives, but in complex issues such as industrial relations I think it is not good policy either for me or for the Assembly to intervene in details. It is about a general conceptual notion.

Should the Assembly require the negotiations to proceed while industrial action continues? No, the Assembly should not. The only thing that can happen from that is that patients will suffer. It would be appalling if the Assembly gave such an endorsement to industrial action. The Canberra Hospital hopes to participate in negotiations, and these will be the same whenever they commence.

There are three harms to the public interest if industrial action continues. Firstly, the continuance of such action directly harms the public through disruption of patient services and possible adverse impacts on patient care. In saying that, I recognise that skeleton staff have been left on to protect patients, and I hope that continues. That is certainly appreciated. Secondly, the existence of background disruption adds pressure to the Canberra Hospital negotiating team and therefore may result in an outcome which is less favourable to the community as a whole. Thirdly, such a basis for proceeding is contrary to good industrial policy in that it encourages use of actions again in this and future disputes. There should not be incentives for the use of industrial action. There should be disincentives for the use of industrial action.

In conclusion, the Canberra Hospital is adequately funded to a level well above national averages, and no additional funding will be injected. This Assembly instructed me to ensure that I deal with that issue as carefully and as thoroughly as I possibly could. As you can tell by the budget, I have been achieving that. If you want to ask me about waiting lists and waiting times, I would be happy to answer those questions. They are turning around. It is happening, but it takes time and it takes effort. (Further extension of time granted) Whilst the level of funding is relevant to the task of the Canberra Hospital management and staff maintaining both performance and budget if an excessively generous EBA is agreed, it does not in itself limit negotiating flexibility. As the Industrial Relations Commission pointed out, it is a possibility to negotiate.

Mr Speaker, rather than read them, for the interest of members, I will table a catalogue of ANF dispute events which clearly describes the industrial action taken over the last few days. It shows the number of staff that walked out of specific wards and what had happened within those wards on Tuesday, 17 August, Wednesday, 18 August, Thursday, 19 August, Monday, 23 August and Wednesday, 25 August.

It certainly was disappointing to me that such short notice was given last night of industrial action being taken. Mr Speaker, I table these papers and ask that you have them copied immediately and circulated to members.

MR SPEAKER: It is so ordered.

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