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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2111 ..

Mr Moore: Use as much as you like. You can waste as much as you like.

MR BERRY: Mr Moore interjects, "You can waste as much as you like." It is not a waste while ever I point to the hypocrisy of Mr Moore. Historians in the future will read about this and they will wonder how he ever got away with it. I guess he got away with it only because there are others in this place who seek to protect him. This industrial dispute was potentially one of the most damaging I have seen for nurses.

Mr Moore had some disputation with the Australian Medical Association in relation to the hospital. Doctors are not covered by the Workplace Relations Act, and it is quite a different kettle of fish to negotiate with doctors. I would not be as critical of the minister in relation to that. I know from my own experience that they are difficult cattle and you have to use different industrial arrangements to deal with them.

But the nurses are covered by the Workplace Relations Act, and they should get as fair a shake as they can from any minister dealing with them. I guarantee that if I have anything to do with nurses at Canberra Hospital after the next election, it will be like a breath of fresh air to them.

The next thing I found most striking was the government's response to the comment in the Estimates Committee report. There was not one mention of the nurses, as far as I can make out. That explains the attitude of the government to the nurses. There has been an enormous breakdown, and no wonder. Witness the occurrence of recent times when a number of nurses who worked in Accident and Emergency took sick leave. They are the ones who have to deal with the government's failure to provide the extra beds it said it would provide some years ago when it said there would be 1,000 beds by the year 2000. They are having difficulty with dealing with their operations in Accident and Emergency. It all caught up with them, and a number took sick leave, coincidentally.

The immediate reaction from the government was that it was a wildcat strike. This is Michael Moore in action. It turned out that it was not a wildcat strike. Management at the hospital tried to sort the matter out, and even management at the hospital conflicted with the minister's view. I do not know whether he has apologised for that. He possibly has been forced to. The fact of the matter is that this minister has got more things wrong than right when it comes to dealing with his staff.

I suspect that when the minister rises he will try to reflect harshly on the period when I was health minister. I will not go to the trouble of listing my achievements yet, but if the minister wants to look at the record, I would like to see him match the achievements listed on the public record for the period when I was minister. I think he ought to be even-handed when he tries to point the bone at other people.

The issue of nursing in our hospitals is a serious one, and it is one that later governments will have to deal with long after Mr Moore is looking for a job somewhere else. This is an issue that I think will be left for later. I repeat here and now that if I have anything to do with it it will be like a breath of fresh air for the nurses.


(Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (9.51): I thank members for their participation in the debate and for the comments they made. It was disappointing that Mr Stanhope made a series of assertions that were not based on

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