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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 969 ..



We do not want to hear about industrial disputation affecting our nursing work force and, indeed, our prospects of recruiting more nurses to the ACT. Let us not forget that it was this government, and this minister in particular, that promoted recruitment as a means to sort out a nursing crisis. We were always told that there were problems with our hospital because we could not recruit. The government are not serious if they are not prepared to finish this job off, and here is an opportunity for them to do so.

I am sure members of the government will stand up during the course of this debate and say, "Well, you know, Wayne Berry is tangled up with the nurses union and a couple of other unions around the town-the doctors and so on." Indeed, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, but when we had disagreements, the provisions of the legislation relating to the Industrial Relations Commission that applied at that time allowed disputes to be settled by arbitration. We did not have the restriction on certified agreements that was put in place by the Reith laws, and the parties could go off to the Industrial Relations Commission and sort it. My amendment is a way forward to make sure that the parties come together and sort it. That is what the amendment is about and I urge members to support it.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (4.52): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I would argue that there are a number of very good reasons why the Assembly should not entertain the amendment that Mr Berry has moved. Mr Berry got up in this place and, if I understand him correctly, argued that we need to be able to bring on a period when industrial action is permitted in order to be able to resolve a matter peacefully, calmly, and with common sense. I recall a headline in the Canberra Times yesterday or the day before of Mr Berry calling for calm-that the calm approach, the sensible approach, in this matter is to move this into a period when industrial action is permitted.

I do not understand why it is that the Assembly should take the step of facilitating-

Mr Berry: You want to wait until it is permitted.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Mr Berry, come to order. The Chief Minister has the call.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I think it makes little sense to try to calm an industrial dispute by facilitating the escalation of the dispute through the taking of industrial action. Mr Berry was at pains throughout his remarks to emphasise how this is a way forward, good sense, and a sensible approach. He pleaded that case repeatedly. But where is there common sense or a way forward in facilitating an escalation of this dispute? That is what it amounts to-an escalation of the dispute.

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, first of all, there is something very strange about hearing Mr Berry arguing in this place the case for what he calls the Peter Reith Industrial Relations Act. Yet, here he is doing just that. He suggests that the matter has broken down and he blames the government for that.

Obviously, I rise in this place to say that the government has acted in good faith throughout this matter. I turn in particular to the things that Mr Moore, the minister for health, referred to in this debate today-the steps that he has taken to personally bring

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