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Friday, 6 December 1985
Page: 3172


Senator REYNOLDS —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware that the Queensland Government has refused to match skills in demand training grants available from the Federal Government for the retraining of nurses? How much money has been allocated to this program in other States, and have other States accepted this money? Has the Minister any suggestions for Queensland nurses trying to gain access to this program to assist in the overall upgrading of nurse education and their professional status?


Senator WALSH —Yes, the Queensland Government, as Senator Reynolds said, has refused to match the Commonwealth funding for skills in demand training. It is the only State or Territory which has done so. Queensland stands alone yet again. About $3m of Commonwealth money has already been allocated to the other States and shortly it is expected that an allocation will be made to Tasmania. In the four States which have already had funding, the money has provided for the retraining of some 1,400 nurses.

Queensland's excuse for not participating is that there is no shortage of nurses in that State; an assertion which is not verified by the Commonwealth Employment Service data and other experience. Also, Queensland is said to doubt its ability to put up the money. In other words, Queensland has welshed on its joint responsibility to do something about nurse training, just as it welshed on its joint responsibility to do something about the sugar industry.

As for what Queensland nurses can do, I can only suggest-this will be extremely difficult because it has been taken care of in other ways-that they try to get rid of the Bjelke-Petersen Government.