Page 514 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mrs Burke?

MRS BURKE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, how on earth could you claim yesterday that “we have the best system in the country”—and that is to quote you—when key front-line professional staff are constantly being asked to work double shifts and are being recalled to work extra shifts?

MS GALLAGHER: I do not apologise for the need to staff the hospital adequately. If someone rings in sick, we have to ask someone to cover their shift. I would say that, if we were not asking people to do overtime or asking them to work extra hours because we could not fill shifts, it would start to raise questions as to whether we were running a first-rate hospital. If the opposition think that it is okay to leave shifts unfilled just because we do not ask staff to do extra shifts and still deliver what we need to deliver, I would say that that would start jeopardising the reputation of the Canberra Hospital.

We do our best. Nurse managers—those people who Mrs Burke thinks are evil: managers evil, front-line staff good in the black-and-white world that Mrs Burke lives in, the only world that she can operate in—

Mrs Burke: Point of order, Mr Speaker: the minister needs to come to the question—118 (a).

MR SPEAKER: Come to the subject matter of the question.

MS GALLAGHER: I am on the subject matter. The subject matter was about filling staffing rates. I am saying that the “evil managers” who work at the Canberra Hospital—those managers whom Mrs Burke talks down, day in and day out—are the ones that work every day trying to make sure that every shift in the hospital is full and making sure that there is the right complement of staff and the right mix of staff. They are the nurse managers who try to do a very difficult job.

From time to time we cannot deliver everything and every shift is not filled. That does impact on the services that we can deliver, but they do their best and the nurses do their best. On occasion, nurses will work extra hours and overtime and will be flexible with their shifts. We are really grateful for that, because without that flexibility we would not be able to deliver the services that we deliver on a daily basis.

Environment—green waste programs

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services in his capacity as head waste minister.

Members interjecting—

DR FOSKEY: This is not kind. They can laugh away.

Mr Hargreaves: We have just seen the annual burst of mirth so I do not mind.

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