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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2302

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (13:49): Right now nurses in my electorate of Melbourne and across the state of Victoria are being forced to lift to work bans they have put in place at a number of hospitals. The decisions of Fair Work Australia and the Federal Court to order the lifting of the bans again highlights the disadvantage of state employees such as nurses, because they work in an essential service. Nurses, midwives and mental health nurses save lives and care for people. They do not put on work bans without good reason. Rather they are doing so because of the refusal of the state Baillieu government and hospital administrations to genuinely bargain about issues central to the safety and effectiveness of our health and hospital system. Those issues include improved nurse-patient ratios in areas such as palliative care, emergency departments, residential aged care, rehabilitation and geriatric evaluation management units, the introduction of ratios in day surgery, dialysis, day oncology and stroke beds and minimum mental health nurse-patient profiles.

I currently have a bill before the parliament that seeks to redress this imbalance and enable public sector essential service workers to have all the issues in their bargaining resolved. It is critical that workers such as nurses who care for us and care for our kids and care for our parents are entitled to bargain about all matters in dispute, including nurse-patient ratios, which will ultimately result in a better standard of care for all of us. I hope the government and other members will support my bill, because we should respect the work that nurses, midwives and mental health nurses do.