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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 226 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

to a functioning, efficient and effective health service, particularly in relation to the delivery of public health services to the people of Canberra. We have not got it right.

The part of the health work force that is most aggrieved at the moment is the nurses. There are serious grievances amongst a range of other health professionals. We are suffering real problems in the employment and retention of health professionals across the field. This is not unique to the ACT. I acknowledge that. It is something that each of the jurisdictions around Australia is suffering and that each of our regions is suffering. But it is vital that we do not, in the way that I think was a feature of the previous government, continue to downplay the importance of nursing as a profession, continue to demean the work and value of nursing and nurses and continue to be aggressive and adversarial in our attitude to nurses.

In relation to the specific issue of the industrial action that was taken before the end of October, I think members are aware that the Canberra Hospital did approach the commission to determine whether or not there was a breach. The parties, having regard to the action the Canberra Hospital took, were scheduled to appear in the commission in early November. As a sign of good faith, and following discussions by me with both the ANF and the Canberra Hospital-

Mr Smyth: So you have interfered?

MR STANHOPE: I did not interfere at all. You will see that it is by consent. The parties agreed, as a sign of good faith, to get back to the table so they could continue negotiations to the fruitful settlement of an EBA. The parties-namely, the Canberra Hospital and the ANF-by consent, agreed to discontinue the action. That was their decision.

Mr Smyth: At your direction?

MR STANHOPE: It was not at my direction at all. It was a consent decision. I certainly facilitated the discussions, which is a vital role that governments and ministers should play. Ministers and governments are there to provide leadership to facilitate and to ensure that we do not have the situation that occurred and persisted over the last 14 months as you, through your intransigence, ideology and incompetence, continued to inflame the industrial issues at the Canberra Hospital, to a point where 14 months later we are still negotiating. But, thankfully, over the last four weeks enormous progress has been made. The parties have sat down and have consulted.

Mr Smyth: Calvary nurses have had this money for 12 months.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Smyth, I do not think you should be talking too much about money.

Mr Smyth: It is a good story.

MR STANHOPE: The better story around this place today, Mr Smyth, is why-

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Chief Minister, I do not really want a running commentary between Mr Smyth and you.

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