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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 857 ..

MR MOORE: Long shifts, retaining nurses and double shifts, I think you said.

Mr Stanhope: Yes, and attracting new workers.

MR MOORE: I will answer those questions the best I can. Mr Stanhope, I have made myself available on quite a number of occasions to meet with the nurses union in order to discuss the offer the government made. It is worth understanding very clearly that the offer was made by the government to hospital management. The negotiators are the hospital management and the nurses union. That is how the system works, Mr Stanhope, and you of course would be very aware of that.

In the case of Calvary Hospital, the hospital management and the nurses union were able to come to an agreement in 16 to 18 days and were able to say, "Yes, we are going to put that to our nurses for consideration." As we know, 83 per cent of them said, "Yes, this is a good offer. This will improve our conditions." The matter is being considered by the Industrial Relations Commission for verification at about this time, and I expect that within the next few minutes it will be verified.

As soon as that happens, the nurses at Calvary will have the best conditions in Australia, and they will have the best pay in Australia. They are advertising that. Advertisements last Saturday said, "Come to Calvary. The best nurses. The best conditions." Calvary has an incredible advantage over the Canberra Hospital, unfortunately. The advantage is that we are giving the best possible conditions and pay in the ACT, and for that they could read "or in Australia".

We made an offer that would assist in reducing the long shifts and people working double shifts, because the offer we made was specifically focused on areas of need. One part of the offer was that we will provide significant bonuses to nurses who are working in areas of need. Areas of need are such places as the emergency section, the renal unit and the intensive care unit. We know that they are areas of need. We also know-I am not sure whether you are aware of this, Mr Stanhope-that when we examined where nurses are doing their double shifts we found that something like 85 per cent of double shifts were done in areas of need. In other words, it is not a systemic problem across the hospital. It is specifically in areas of need.

We are saying that not only will we give ACT nurses the best pay and the best conditions in Australia so they will not be taken elsewhere but added to that we will provide bonuses for people working in those special areas of need. Why? Because we recognise that over the next little while there is going to be a temptation for nurses to work where they can get better conditions. They have always had better conditions than anywhere else, but the agreements in New South Wales and Victoria looked like they might in time overtake ours. So in the middle of an EBA we made an offer. We said, "We can give you the best conditions in Australia and give you some flexibility, in particular in the length of shifts."

Quite a number of nurses-I have spoken to quite a number of nurses, for example, in intensive care-have said, "We want to do 12-hour shifts. There are some reasons why we want to do 12-hour shifts." I said, "Isn't that unfair on the other nurses who want to do eight-hour shifts?" They said, "No. We can manage a flexible system. Some of us can

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