This article first appeared in Tracker magazine on March 19. * * * Aboriginal leaders in the Northern Territory have issued a strong warning that the Australian government’s new land grab in the form of the proposed 10-year extension of the intervention will send many communities into a dangerous downward spiral with still more death and misery.
At last, the bill has been passed to enable Britain's health service, the envy of the world, to become more like the United States system, universally derided as a chaotic disaster. Now they can introduce bills to make our ferry service more like the one in Italy, and our record on child abuse more like that of the Vatican. It takes inventive thinking to hear that in the US, drug companies spend twice as much on advertising as they do on research, and say, "That's MARVELLOUS, why can't WE do that"?
"This is a bittersweet victory for nurses and midwives after an unprecedented industrial marathon with the Baillieu Government to protect patient care and secure a fair pay rise.” — Lisa Fitzpatrick, State Secretary, Australian Nursing Federation (Victoria). The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) of Victoria has had a good win. At a time when the employers are on the march, the Victorian ANF ran a campaign that involved two periods of industrial action, including bed closures, elective surgery cancellations and four hour rolling stoppages twice a day.
The Northern Territory’s peak doctors’ body says Darwin’s main hospital is struggling to cope with up to five refugees a day coming in for treatment for self-harm, mental illness and chronic anxiety. See also: The Northern Territory: Australia's refugee detention capital
Victorian nurses crowded into Festival Hall in Melbourne on March 16 to hear their nine months of struggle had reached a successful outcome. After what the ABC said was Victoria’s longest running industrial dispute, nurses have won 14-21% pay increases and kept their nurse-to-patient ratios in return for minor productivity offsets. Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: “This is a bittersweet victory for nurses and midwives after an unprecedented industrial marathon with the Baillieu government to protect patient care and secure a fair pay rise."
After eight months of campaigning by Victoria’s nurses to keep staff-to-patient ratios and win a wage rise there may be a breakthrough in the dispute. On March 7, the Ted Baillieu Coalition state government finally offered to begin new negotiations with the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) though a conciliation process overseen by Fair Work Australia.
Twice daily outside almost every Victorian public hospital there are nurses protesting and waving banners in a spirited display of defiance. They are not being incited by their union. They are walking off the job for four hours at a time, demanding a pay rise and defending the very essence of quality public health. A brief scouring of social media or talkback radio shows that Victorians love nurses, despite government propaganda to the contrary. See also: Vic nurses 'dislike' Baillieu government Facebook gag
The Australian Nurses Federation (ANF) Victorian branch released the statement below on March 1. * * * Private conciliation resolved disputes in 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007 and can resolve 2012. The Baillieu government has spent more taxpayer money on lawyers — this time to prevent nurses and midwives from freely using social media to discuss the dispute. Baillieu government-paid lawyers wrote to ANF solicitors last night demanding the ANF delete nurses’ and midwives’ posts from the Facebook campaign page at www.facebook.com/respectourwork
Lynas, an Australian mining company, is building a rare earth refinery close to the heavily populated area city of Kuantan in Malaysia. The ore is to be shipped from a mine in Western Australia but the highly toxic and radioactive waste which the refinery will produce will not be accepted back by the WA government.
After Victorian nurses walked off the job from six Victorian hospitals, Ted Baillieu's state government was still refusing to undertake effective negotiations with the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF). The dispute has dragged on for eight months and has been in its current conciliation process under Fair Work Australia (FWA) for 105 days. On February 24, the FWA ordered the ANF to stop all industrial action as sought by the government. But the ANF has said it will go ahead with its actions as decided on by members at a mass meeting on February 25.