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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2425 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

This Government has acted consistent with the style of industrial negotiation that has been adopted by the current Federal Government. It is the style that says, "Obfuscate; delay; do not deal; put it off; make them wait; hang them out". That is the style of industrial negotiation that characterises the Government on the hill, and it has spread down and infected this Government. "Offer nothing; say nothing; do not talk; do not deal; string them out; make them wait" - that is the style.

Mr Moore: Do not worry about the facts - that is your style.

MR STANHOPE: Do not worry about the facts - that is true. Offer nothing. It is time you got serious. It is time you abandoned the style that Reith and his cronies up there have imposed on you and that you have so readily accepted. Get genuine in your negotiations and in your relationship with your workers. Treat them properly and appropriately and talk to them. All this motion says is: "For goodness sake, talk to the ANF".

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (5.08): Is it not deja vu, Mr Berry? You went through it. I went through it. Mr Connolly went through it. Mr Humphries went through it. Mr Moore is going through it. They are all exactly the same issues. In fact, we can go back and quote Hansard until it comes out of our ears. We can go back and look at the grabs on television and radio and see exactly the same issues. They are exactly the same issues because in the public hospital system in the ACT our costs are about 30 per cent above national averages. They have varied a bit up and down, but basically that is where we are. That is probably where we were at self-government.

Why are they that far above national averages? We have had inquiries; we have had consultants. We have had different governments; we have had different Health Ministers. All of them have done inquiries; all have had consultants in. All have come to exactly the same outcome. Mr Berry did when he was the Minister. Mr Berry attempted to change nursing terms and conditions. He failed. Why? The nurses went on strike. That is not a big surprise. It has happened under every Health Minister.

Mr Berry attempted to do exactly the same thing that everyone has attempted to do, and that is to bring our costs in line, or at least basically in line, with the Commonwealth Grants Commission requirements. The Commonwealth Grants Commission only pay us according to national averages. Anything we pay above that has to come from own-source revenue. We know that.

What is own-source revenue? It is revenue from taxes, fees and charges on ACT taxpayers. Alternatively, the money has to come out of other services. The amount we pay in excess of the national averages has to be made up by increasing taxes and charges or, alternatively, cross-subsidising our public hospital out of other areas of government - education, police and so on.

Mr Moore: And then we get penalised by the Grants Commission.

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