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Monday, 25 March 1985
Page: 808

Ms FATIN —My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Have there been requests from State governments for the immigration entry of nurses into Australia? If so, what is the Government's response to these requests?

Mr Rocher —Very slow.

Mr HURFORD —In response to the interjection 'very slow', it is very sad that there has to be a response to a request to bring nurses into this country. It is nothing short of a scandal that those who were in charge in the public hospital system and, indeed, financing the public hospital system in this country six to 10 years ago did not make sure that sufficient nurses were being trained in the system in Australia rather than having to bring them in. Nobody needs to be an Einstein to know that the Fraser Government's spending cuts were the main reasons for the shortage of funds for that purpose. The reduction in hospital training due to those government cuts is the main reason for the requirement for nurses. There are other reasons, such as the transfer of education of nurses from the hospitals to the colleges of advanced education and, sadly, far too many nurses are leaving the profession. I hope that those reasons will be addressed.

The Department of Employment and Industrial Relations conducts the labour market tests and those tests show that there is a shortage. Therefore my Department is responding under the employer nomination scheme and also through temporary entry permits to applications by such bodies as the Victorian Health Commission to make sure that registered, properly qualified nurses are able to immigrate to this country. In other words, there is a need and we can respond to it. Some States need these nurses, but I still think it is a scandal of earlier years that this situation has arisen.