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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 44 ..

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, having been on a very vigorous program of exercise and having lost some weight in previous years, I am offended.

Nurses-Canberra Hospital

MR OSBORNE: My question is to the minister for health, Mr Moore, and is about his ongoing dispute with the nurses at the Canberra Hospital. Minister, last week the nurses union rejected your offer of a 12 per cent pay rise, based on their claim that it was funded by job losses caused by combining positions and changes to rostering. Do you agree that your offer contains a forced trade-off of jobs? Is the offer still on the table and are you currently negotiating with the union?

MR MOORE: I thank Mr Osborne for the question. Let me answer the last part of the question first. It is certainly not the situation that I am negotiating with the union. I am not negotiating with the union. I never have been negotiating with the union. I asked the union to come into my office when the government made the offer and I pointed out that from then on the negotiations would be with the management of the three areas-the Calvary Hospital, Community Care and the Canberra Hospital.

Mr Osborne may recall that some of the workplace reforms that we asked for when we made the 12 per cent offer have been presented erroneously. For example, the offer is very specific about the introduction of shift-length flexibility, the 12-hour shift and the three-hour shift, saying that it will not be forced on any individual. It is very specific. To suggest that it would be forced is simply a lie. To suggest that 40 jobs will be cut is simply a lie.

The sort of scuttlebutt and misinformation that have gone through to the Canberra Hospital nurses is particularly disappointing. It has been seen through by the Calvary nurses, who have overwhelmingly accepted the government's offer-83 per cent. Because they agreed to go to a vote on it on, I think, 22 December-certainly before Christmas-their pay rise will start from 22 December. I hope that that pay rise will be in their pay packets the next time they receive a salary payment.

Unfortunately, the scuttlebutt and misinformation that are around have caused some nurses to feel unnerved about what is an excellent offer. There is also the sense that after the election, no matter who is voted in, the nurses will have a better chance-certainly if Labor is in-of getting a much better offer than 12 per cent. Before Mr Stanhope jumps up and says, "Yes, we will do that," he ought to be aware that what he would need to do for the nurses to catch up with that offer by January or February of next year is to offer as the first-up pay rise something in the order of 12 per cent.

The offer is a genuine one. One thing that is somewhat distressing is the level of distrust that has existed between the nurses union and management for the many years since Mr Berry was a minister.

Mr Berry: It is you, mate, not the management.

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