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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2422 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

It is of concern that the Minister, having not accepted that the nurses at the Canberra Hospital had so resoundingly rejected an offer that they did not think was appropriate, comes in here today and says that that result was achieved only by the ANF hoodwinking its members. He said that they had conducted such a campaign of misinformation that they had misled their membership into voting against the salary packaging proposition which then constituted the Government's only response to the serious issues raised by the nurses of the Canberra Hospital and which today continues to constitute, it seems, the only real offer the Government is prepared to make in relation to the claims made by the ANF and by the nurses. That is a matter of serious concern.

That position goes to the heart of the campaign being waged today by the ANF and by the nurses and staff at the Canberra Hospital. They do not believe there is a single signal from management of the hospital or from the Government that they have moved one jot from that position which was resoundingly rejected a year ago.

The Industrial Relations Commission - and the Minister makes great moment of this - has recommended that there be fruitful negotiations. That is more than just saying, "Go away and negotiate, even though those you are negotiating with simply refuse to offer you anything".

We come down to the crunch position of hospital management saying, "We have nothing to negotiate with. There is nothing we can offer you. There is no sense in us sitting down with you, because there is nothing for us to negotiate over". That is the situation which the ANF find themselves in and that is the position which they have consistently put.

The constraints applied to the hospital through its budget and through the determination to continually reduce the number of beds and to continually reduce the number of nurses are significant. In the last 12 months, as Mr Osborne said, there has been a reduction of over 140 beds at the Canberra Hospital, and in the last 18 months there has been a reduction of 147 nurses in that workplace. Those are significant issues.

Yet, as Mr Moore is so pleased to propound, the work rate has been maintained. In fact, it has been increased. The number of separations has increased. The throughput is there and the productivity is there, yet we have 147 fewer nurses doing the work than 18 months ago.

Mr Moore: And 145 fewer beds. Say what they said as well.

MR STANHOPE: There are 140 fewer beds, so there is a classic chicken and egg situation here.

Mr Moore: Wrong. There are not 140 fewer beds. Look at what I have tabled in the Assembly time after time. It is not there.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I do not mind ignoring him, but it is just a little bit difficult to concentrate with the constancy of the nonsense.

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