Page 1695 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Hanson for his question. The number of doctors engaged in limited protected action is approximately 30 to 40-odd. They are largely specialists in emergency, intensive care and a range of other areas. The nature of the dispute is in relation to their concern that special employment entitlements will be arbitrarily removed due to a failure to commence review prior to the commencement of the new enterprise bargaining arrangement.

This is despite the fact that I have sought to reassure doctors and provide them with written assurance that there will not be arbitrary removal of special employment arrangements and that reviews will be commenced to ensure that their existing entitlements continue and do not automatically cease when the new EBA comes into effect.

I have met with the legal representative of this small group of doctors, recognising that we have over 500, indeed close to 1,000, doctors covered by the current EBA. So that puts the dispute into some perspective. I have advised her that I am willing to give those assurances. Regrettably, she has advised that that is not sufficient. I am not quite sure why that is the case, but that is her position and her clients’ position.

As a result of that, I have advised the legal representative of the doctors who are taking this protected action that we will be commencing reviews of their special employment arrangements to ensure that they do not arbitrarily cease when the new EBA takes effect. I think that makes very clear the government’s intention that there will be no arbitrary removal of SEA provisions without review. Therefore, we have commenced the review, to provide doctors with that reassurance. I am yet to hear back from the doctors’ representative whether or not this addresses that concern.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, why don’t the doctors trust your word?

MR CORBELL: That is not something for me to answer, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Minister, what impact will the strike have on training junior staff doctors?

MR CORBELL: Very limited; doctors are prohibited from taking any protected action that will have any clinical impact on patients. They are, I think, similarly of the view that they do not wish in any way to do that.

There will be some minor impact on the training of staff but not so as to impact on clinical safety. My advice to date is that the impact of the protected action, whether it is in relation to training or whether it is in relation to administrative action, is extremely limited. Indeed, it would be fair to say that it is, in effect, negligible.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth.

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