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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4191 ..

Suspension of standing orders

Motion (by Mr Hargreaves ) agreed to:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the order of the day, private members' business, relating to the motion of want of confidence in the Minister for Health, continuing after question time today.

Sitting suspended from 12.29 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Confidence in Mr Corbell

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister. Mr Stanhope, do you have full confidence in your Minister for Planning and Minister for Health, Mr Corbell?

MR STANHOPE: I certainly do.

Visiting medical officer contracts

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Health. Can the minister advise the Assembly of the most recent developments in the renegotiations for the visiting medical officer contracts?

MR CORBELL: I am very happy to provide to members an update on the visiting medical officer contract renegotiations in our hospitals. At a meeting last night, the AMA and the VMOA-those two organisations representing and being the bargaining agents for visiting medical officers in our public hospitals-sought and got the agreement of VMOs on the new contract, which has been negotiated between ACT Health and those two organisations.

This is the first time in the history of self-government that we have reached agreement about the details of the standard contract for VMOs without any disruption to public hospital services, and it is a significant step forward in relations between the ACT government and visiting medical officers, who provide such important services in our public hospitals. This is, of course, in marked contrast to the comments made by Mr Smyth, in the recent Assembly debate when the government proposed its new bargaining approach, where he suggested that we were unprepared and unable to conduct these negotiations in a timely way. I am pleased to have proved Mr Smyth wrong on this occasion.

The new contracts provide for a significant improvement in the competitiveness of rates of pay for visiting medical officers in our public hospitals. In particular, the new contracts offer sessional and fee-for-service payment levels that are nationally competitive. This recognises the need for the ACT to attract and retain highly skilled VMOs, in the context of national work force shortages.

There are also new arrangements for appropriate on-call allowances for all VMOs who participate in rosters at our public hospitals. This is particularly important in making sure

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