Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2009 ..
MR CORBELL: First, Mr Speaker, I do not recall not answering those questions from the Estimates Committee. I do not recall being asked them, but I would be happy to check the Hansard for Mrs Cross and provide her with further information on that.
In relation to the government's approach with visiting medical officers: yes, the government at this stage is investigating the implementation of a collective bargaining framework for visiting medical officers who are engaged in Canberra's public hospitals. We are doing that because we want to ensure that there are more equitable and consistent outcomes in terms of the contracts that VMOs enter into.
At the moment, as a result of the bargaining arrangements implemented by the previous government, the rates of pay vary for VMOs performing the same volume of services, the same services and in the same hospital. The only reason they vary is that one VMO bargained better than another VMO. That is not a good use of the taxpayers' money. We need to make sure that people are paid consistently for the service that they deliver, and that is the approach that we are adopting today.
MRS CROSS: Minister, did you fail to provide answers to the committee to the questions that were asked of you on notice on 4 June because your government had advice from the ACCC that suggested that such an approach would be contrary to the federal act? With the Assembly's Estimates Committee now having reported, when will you provide answers to the questions that were put to you through that process and to which you failed to respond?
MR CORBELL: As far as I am aware, I have answered all outstanding questions from the Estimates Committee, but I will double-check with my office. In relation to the ACCC: it has indicated that this process can take place in the ACT because it takes place in other jurisdictions now, notably New South Wales. New South Wales has had this approach for a number of decades now, through both Labor and Liberal administrations, and it has worked effectively and reasonably. There are issues surrounding the Trade Practices, Act but the advice provided to me has indicated that they are not an impediment to implementing this arrangement.
MR CORNWELL: My question is to the Treasurer, in his capacity as minister responsible for the territory-owned corporations; in this case, ActewAGL. Treasurer, it relates to the continuing power blackouts in inner southside suburbs. You will recall your responses to me of 25 March last year, 15 April last year and 5 June last year on this issue. I have received more recent advice from Yarralumla shopping centre retailers of at least seven power failures in the past 17 months. Yesterday morning, Deakin and Forrest were blacked out for a number of hours. I mentioned this to your office earlier today.
I am now asking: why have there been so many power blackouts in the inner south in recent years?
MR QUINLAN: I thank the member for his question and also thank him for the notice of the question. I wish to assure the house that blackouts in Forrest, Deakin and Yarralumla have nothing to do with class warfare.