Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2421 ..

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (4.52): Mr Osborne's hope, one which I share, is that this motion today will mark the significant turning point in the long-running industrial dispute between the Government and nurses working at the Canberra Hospital. It think Mr Osborne, in moving the motion, had the hope - and we certainly share the hope - that the Minister for Health, through this signal from the Assembly, would constructively address the industrial dispute that is so severely impacting on the provision of health care at the Canberra Hospital. Perhaps that will be the effect of Mr Osborne's motion. The response which Mr Moore has just indicated the hospital is now prepared to make to the offer tabled by the ANF today might lead to more fruitful negotiations.

I think the point of the motion is that, a year or so after it became quite obvious that there were serious issues between the nurses at the Canberra Hospital and the Government, and after a month of significant stoppages, rolling walk-outs and a continuing escalation of the dispute, the Government and hospital management are not prepared, it seems, to seriously address the root causes of the nurses' dissatisfaction with their working conditions at the Canberra Hospital.

Ms Carnell: You will live to regret this, Jon.

MR STANHOPE: The Chief Minister interjects. The Chief Minister, one must assume, is responsible to some extent for industrial relations matters. I looked just yesterday at the latest Administrative Arrangements Order to confirm the role of the Chief Minister in industrial relations. I could not find any reference to industrial relations in the Administrative Arrangements Order. That perhaps is a real comment on the seriousness with which the Chief Minister and this Government take industrial relations. There is no specific reference in the Administrative Arrangements Order to the subject of industrial relations.

As has been indicated by Mr Osborne in his history of this dispute, the nurses at the Canberra Hospital work under the auspices of a certified agreement that expired in February. Their union, the Australian Nursing Federation - I acknowledge the executive and members of the federation in the gallery today - began negotiations for a new agreement well before the expiry date of that certified agreement. As I have just said, almost a year on there has been so little movement towards settlement that the nurses have been driven to the direct industrial action they have taken.

It is of concern that the Government's attitude to the ANF, to the industrial dispute at the hospital and to the negotiation of a new enterprise agreement is characterised by those parts of the Minister's speech in which he accused the ANF in relation to the offer put by the Government late last year. I remember very distinctly Mr Moore daring the ANF to put the issue of salary packaging to its membership. I remember very well the interview that Mr Moore gave in which he dared the ANF to ask their membership to vote on salary packaging. The ANF called his bluff and they put that offer to their membership in a ballot, and their membership resoundingly rejected it. The membership supported the position put by the ANF and, of course, the Minister received a very significant rebuff.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .