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Wednesday, 17 November 1993
Page: 2985

Senator PATTERSON (10.50 a.m.) —in reply—I want to put on the record that I was not suggesting we go back to the old system. That is absolutely ridiculous. If the regulation is disallowed, the government can go back to the drawing board and actually consult with the industry. I will say this again very slowly so that the minister can understand what I said. Because there was widespread concern in the industry, I wrote to the industry in July to put up some alternatives. I said that the alternatives must entail—listen carefully—an incentive to improve occupational health and safety practices, be revenue neutral and be administratively simple. I am not saying, nor is the industry saying, that we should go back.

  All three bodies—I will say it again slowly so that the minister understands—stated that they were in favour of a system that would reward nursing homes with good occupational health and safety practices and penalise those homes with bad practices. Never did I say that we should go back to the old system. We are saying that we need a system that addresses the concerns that the whole industry has. If the government and the minister bothered to consult with the industry—and this would happen on many occasions—they would find that they could reach some compromises. The industry has come up with some suggestions.

  I did not suggest, nor did the Democrats, that we go back to the old system. I have clearly restated what I suggested. The minister said we were suggesting that we go back to the old system. I just want it clearly on the public record that that is not right. I do not think that anything the minister said convinced me that we should change our minds.

  Question put:

  That the motion (Senator Patterson's) be agreed to.