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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 941 ..

Nurses pay

MR MOORE: I took the following question from Mr Stanhope on 27 February on notice:

I wonder whether the minister would be prepared to table any documentation-if there is any documentation-relevant to the negotiations with nurses and Community Care to complete the trifecta.

ACT Community Care met with the ANF on 11 December 2000, 9 January 2001 and 16 January 2001. The agency has advised that the ANF has appeared reluctant to meet and expressed interest from the outset as to when the offer would be taken off the table. Community Care does not believe the ANF is interested in the pay offer and that this is demonstrated by their apparent lack of enthusiasm towards the offer at meetings and the difficulties encountered in trying to meet with them. The agency advises that the ANF have been reluctant to engage in meaningful discussion on the pay proposal and the strengthening the nursing work force initiative. As Mr Stanhope requested, I table the correspondence between the parties. I present the following paper:

ACT Community Care (Nurses) Certified Agreement 2000-2002-Proposed variation-Copy of letter from Executive Director, Corporate and Business Development, ACT Community Care to Secretary, Australian Nursing Federation (ACT Branch), dated 25 January 2001.

Heroin addiction

MR MOORE: On 6 March Mr Rugendyke asked me the following question about morphine:

I would be happy to recommend it [morphine] as a drug treatment. I wonder what further investigation of this method of treatment for adults is being undertaken by your department, given that morphine is already used to treat drug-affected babies.

Whilst morphine is prescribed in the Northern Territory for opioid dependency, this is because there is no methadone maintenance program in the Northern Territory. While there is no doubt that morphine is being prescribed to heroin users to save lives and to improve personal and community functioning, it is being used in lieu of methadone, due to restrictions in that jurisdiction.

Methadone has a longer half-life than morphine, which means it lasts longer in the body, therefore requiring fewer dosings. It is therefore generally favoured over morphine. Because morphine has a shorter half-life than methadone, patients being provided with morphine may need to attend their doctor up to three times a day for injections in order to maintain the dosage level and to prevent withdrawal. Any other type of provision, such as take-away doses, as described by the television program which aired recently, could lead to the development of a black market in morphine, and that is something we need to take into consideration. In the ACT the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 currently allows only the provision of methadone. As morphine is a drug of dependence, the act would require changes to allow for the prescribing of morphine.

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