Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 225 ..
MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Smyth, for the question. The action I have taken in relation to the nurses and the Canberra Hospital seeks to undo the tremendous damage the previous government did to nurses and to nursing as a profession and the incredibly destructive impact on morale and efficiency at the Canberra Hospital of the constant ideological attacks by the previous government on nurses and the ANF, particularly on nurses through the ANF, simply because the ANF is a union.
Everybody in this place remembers extremely well the at-times very personal, sometimes vicious attacks on the secretary of the ANF, members of the ANF and, by implication, all nurses. Every one of us in this place remembers that. I think there was a motion during the last Assembly calling on Mr Moore to apologise for some of the things he said, particularly about the secretary of the ANF.
What we have sought to do in relation to the Canberra Hospital, the ANF and nurses in general is to restore some credibility to governance and to the government in relation to negotiations with the ANF, to see whether or not in a genuine, honest and open way we can deal with the nursing work force so that we can resolve the ongoing dispute at the Canberra Hospital, settle the EBA and develop a climate of normalcy at the Canberra Hospital so that the health interests of the people of Canberra are once and for all paramount and put first. That is the underlying attitude of this government in relation to nurses and the continuing negotiations on the EBA.
There is nobody in Canberra who is not extremely distressed at what nurses at the Canberra Hospital in particular have been forced to suffer in recent times. Morale at the Canberra Hospital is shot. You should go-
Mr Humphries: Are you going to fix it?
MR STANHOPE: Yes, we are. We are working very hard at it, and we will achieve some very significant gains in relation to the nursing work force and morale at the hospital.
Mr Humphries: Are you going to fix the morale problem?
MR STANHOPE: We certainly are. One of the first things we have done-
Mr Smyth: I take a point of order. My question was in relation to the breach of the direction of the Industrial Relations Commission, which of course the Chief Minister skirts around. I wonder whether he would direct his answer to that specific point.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Ministers, as you know, can answer questions as they see fit, but I would draw the Chief Minister's attention to the question.
MR STANHOPE: I will get to that point. I was working up to it. I thought it was important to provide some context to the attitude this government takes to the nursing work force. It is often overlooked, and was certainly overlooked by the previous government, that nurses constitute 70 per cent of the health work force in the ACT. Seventy per cent of all workers in health are nurses. That is how fundamental nurses are