Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3585 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

nurses have invited members of this place down to the hospital to have a look and see the conditions they are working in.

I have been down there twice in the last few months at their invitation. I know they have invited other members. Mr Osborne has been notable for his absence, and now suddenly he is concerned about the numbers of nurses in our hospitals. Like much documentation of this kind that is dropped on the table leading up to an election, it oversimplifies the issue, as described by the minister.

It is an absurdity to suggest that you can express the number of nurses required in a hospital-given the changes of situation that occur in hospitals in the course of one day-in a simple mathematical formula. It is an absurdity, and it demonstrates that Mr Osborne needs to get down to the hospital, as he has been invited to do, and find out how our nurses are operating on the ward floor in our hospitals. If he had done it even once, he would know that you cannot produce a mathematical formula to tell you how many nurses to have on the floor of the hospital. On the other hand, the minister's arguments were not very convincing. As always when there is some-

Ms Tucker: You are both wrong.

MR KAINE: You are both wrong, yes. That is the simple fact. As always, when a bit of publicity is given to a situation like this-nurses in our hospitals-we do a hell of a lot of talking. The minister does a hell of a lot of talking. He goes to ministerial council meetings, and they pass resolutions and push the job off to public service committees to go away and have another look at. And we hide behind the assertion that there is a worldwide shortage of nurses and we therefore cannot get any in the ACT.

Mr Moore said there are not enough registered nurses in the ACT to fill the vacancies. There are over 4,000 registered nurses in the ACT today, and only about 2,000 of them are in our hospital system. The reason that they are not in our hospital system is that they cannot cope with the working conditions. They have given it away. They have taken other employment because the working conditions they were confronted with daily in hospital are more than they could stand.

These conditions affect their family life, their social life and their health. Nurses are in a constant state of stress and are constantly being asked to work double shifts and more. When they want to be home with their kids and their families, they cannot be because they feel obligated to be down at the hospital working double shifts, 21/2 shifts, triple shifts and odd shifts and to answer the telephone at any time of the night or day to go to the hospital to fill a vacancy when some other nurse has been unable to turn up.

Those are the things the minister should have been addressing in the time he has been the minister rather than hiding behind the false argument that there is a worldwide shortage of nurses. There might be, but there is no shortage of nurses in the ACT. His solution to what the nurses federation and the nurses themselves have been saying to him over many months, was, first of all, to withhold a pay rise and, secondly, quite recently, coincident with an election coming up, to give them the pay rise he should have given them a year ago. So, Mr Moore, the responsible minister, obfuscated the issue instead of dealing with it, and I held him accountable for that.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .