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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 960 ..

Events at ACT Community Care

Management at ACT Community Care did as the other two agencies did, seeking formal meetings with ANF to propose a variation. Unfortunately, contact was reluctant and inconclusive. Discussions with the ANF trailed off in late January with the union's final message seeking expressions of willingness on the part of management to negotiate wider issues. Management wrote to ANF seeking clarification of what issues the union wished to discuss.

Through the process of the negotiation, the ANF appeared to be treating ACT Community Care, and by inference its members, with contempt. In the period 6 February to 19 March the ANF failed to respond to any written communication and were generally unavailable to answer telephone contacts. ACT Community Care management and staff were left with the sense that the main game was TCH and that the ANF had decided not to discuss the situation of the 300 nurses with ACT Community Care. My disappointment with the lack of democratic process was reinforced.

Budget financial statements

On 8 March the government presented the Appropriation Bill (No 2) 2000-2001 to the Assembly. Amongst other items, this bill seeks appropriation of $410,000 for the expenditure at Calvary Hospital through to 30 June this year. In addition, in February this year the government published the consultation papers for phase 2 of the budget for 2001-2002. Included in these papers was the allocation of $7.9 million for next year, with forward estimates of $11.4 million needed to fund this offer. These amounts represented estimates for the entire package at all agencies.

Clearly, the necessary expenditure in the coming budget is now reduced to that needed for the scholarship scheme, estimated at about $600,000, and the changed enterprise bargaining agreement at Calvary Hospital, estimated at about $1.4 million. In effect, the remaining funds, estimated at about $5.8 million next year, are now freed up for other budget priorities. The outcome of this process will, of course, be announced on budget day.

The government is proud, Mr Deputy Speaker, to have taken the unorthodox step of offering a pay rise before the end of the enterprise bargaining agreement. I believe it was a national first. It was made in good faith, and it was progressed in good faith by many staff in the agencies. Our disappointment with the course of events at the Canberra Hospital and Community Care is tempered by the knowledge that an excellent result was achieved at Calvary Hospital and by the benefits to come from the scholarship scheme. The government will continue to be committed to assisting our nursing work force.

I present the following paper:

The Outcomes of the Government's Strengthening the Nursing Workforce Offer-Ministerial statement, 27 March 2001.

I move:

That the Assembly takes notes of the paper.

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