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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 964 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

cent coverage of nurses. We are not talking about some little rump that represents a couple of people and pursues some sort of self-interest. It represents over 80 per cent of nurses. Every one of them was entitled to go to that meeting. Some chose not to. At every meeting that has been convened the majority of nurses have rejected the offer. You don't need this nonsense that if it is not every single nurse that is employed then it's an invalid result. That is a nonsense. We all know that to be a nonsense. They were all entitled to attend. Those who did attend voted overwhelmingly and in a democratic way against the deal.

I have the letter here from Mr Szwarcbord of Community Care. After that first rejection the ANF wrote and said, "Tell us that you can negotiate with us in good faith. Please let me know that you have the capacity to negotiate." (Extension of time granted.)

I want to conclude with this remark. There is much more that could be said and will be said in the context of this debate, but today's statement by the minister is, unfortunately, a long and detailed admission of failure. He says that he set out on this escapade to strengthen the ACT nursing force, but it is an ironic and sad fact that after three months of what I think was a sham process he has achieved the reverse of his stated aim. He actually has created division. He has actually destroyed morale. He has made the nurses furious. He has engineered and created an environment in which I think there are nurses now throwing up their hands and saying, "Why bother? Why continue in this environment where my efforts are not applauded, where I am not appreciated, where I am continually downgraded, where there is no genuine effort to accept my needs in terms of reasonable pay and work force conditions in order to allow me to pursue a meaningful, professional and satisfying career?"

It is ironic in the extreme, I think, that the minister, who set out to strengthen the work force, through the inappropriate and inept way in which he has handled this process, has weakened the public health system, patient care, and nursing as a profession.


(4.32): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I move:

Add "and that the Government agree to an immediate variation to the Canberra Hospital and ACT Community Care Nurses Certified Agreements to bring forward the nominal expiry dates to allow good faith bargaining within a designated bargaining period pursuant to the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Commonwealth)".

I would like Mr Rugendyke to hear what I have to say. Although he is being distracted by Mr Humphries, there are some issues that he might wish to hear in the context of this debate. I can wait until Mr Humphries has finished.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hird): Mr Berry, address your remarks to the chair. You have the call, sir.

MR BERRY: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, the process which has been engaged upon by the government has been an extraordinary one. It has been referred to in the course of the debate-my leader, Mr Stanhope, has referred to this matter-and it is something that members need to be constantly aware of.

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