Background on Howard-Costello years in Federal Government
1. Health funding - QNU press release, 17 October 2007
Howard’s tax cuts - is it any wonder hospitals are struggling
The tax cuts are not that substantial anyway – especially if WorkChoices is retained
The money would be better spent on education and better health services
The Howard Government’s promised tax cuts would be better spent making up the Federal Government’s massive funding shortfall on the nation’s hospitals and universities so we can improve health services and overcome the shortage of nurses and other health professionals, the Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) said today.
QNU secretary, Gay Hawksworth, said nurses want pay and job security, better working conditions in our hospitals and aged care facilities and more nurses educated in our universities rather than a tax cut that, frankly over three to five years, is of limited value – especially if WorkChoices is retained.
“Nurses and patients are putting up with very difficult conditions in many of our hospitals and aged care facilities because of Commonwealth Government policies and they would rather have those issues seriously addressed than a pre-election bribe like the one offered by Mr Howard on Monday,” Ms Hawksworth said.
“If this is the priority of the Howard Government, at a time when its share of public hospital funding has slipped from 45.2 per cent in 1996 to 41.4 per cent in 2006, then is it any wonder many Queensland hospitals are struggling and nurses are dealing with heavy workloads.
“Under the current Australian Health Care Agreement (AHCA), federal funding for Queensland public hospital services has fallen from 44 per cent in 2004 to 40 per cent in 2006. Queensland Health estimates this has cost Queensland public hospitals more than $500 million per year or more than $2.6 billion over the five-year life of the current AHCA.
“When you look at the way the Howard Government has also pushed more costs back onto working families, then these tax cuts have even less meaning. For example, in healthcare alone, the average out-of-pocket costs per person have ballooned since the Howard Government came to power – from $453.00 to $723.00 per person per year.
“Real expenditure by individuals on healthcare has grown by six per cent per year since the Howard Government came to office and now stands at a massive $15.4 billion per year. A lot of this increase in out-of-pocket expenditure is due to pharmaceutical cutbacks by the Howard Government,” Ms Hawksworth said.
2. Aged care nurse wages - QNU press release, 29 May 2006
Santoro stirs up nurses over pay comments
Nursing home pay rates confirm federal pay agenda
If anyone is in any doubt that the Howard Government’s agenda is to cut pay rates across society they should have a look at wage trends in the aged care industry over the last ten years and today’s comments by the federal Minister for Ageing, Santo Santoro, about nurse pay rises, the Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) said today.
The QNU was responding to comments, reported in today’s (29 May) Courier-Mail, in which Mr Santoro complains that recent nurse pay rises are “making it difficult to operate nursing homes” and that “State industrial relations commissions continued to approve large pay rises for nurses within a sector already struggling with staff shortages”.
QNU secretary, Gay Hawksworth, said nurses are worth every cent they currently earn and decent pay rises, which are being negotiated and not granted by industrial commissions, are necessary if we are to rebuild nursing as an attractive career option.
“It is a pity the Federal Government doesn’t recognise that fact through its aged care funding and regulatory policies. Instead of complaining about long-overdue pay improvements for nurses, Mr Santoro should be matching public hospital pay rates in the aged care sector,” Ms Hawksworth said.
“The Federal Government is taxing people’s earnings, taxing their spending and running up huge surpluses, while pay rates in vital community services it funds, such as aged care, languish.
“If the March pay rise for public hospital nurses is accepted this week, experienced Level One registered nurses, working full time in aged care in Queensland, will be between $60.00 and $230.00 per week behind their colleagues at nearby public hospitals. Most will be well over $100.00 per week behind. Most enrolled nurses will also be well over $100.00 per week behind and most assistants in nursing will be over $80.00 per week behind their public hospital colleagues.
“These gaps will only get worse if any future pay rises have to be negotiated under the Federal Government’s restrictive new industrial relations laws. Mr Santoro’s solution is obviously to hold everyone’s wages down to the aged care rate, rather than properly value aged care nurses by lifting their rates to the public hospital rate.
“Is it any wonder the Federal Government is in deep water over industrial relations policy? We will certainly be letting nurses across Queensland know just what value the Howard Government puts on their work and how it resents the pay rises they are currently achieving,” Ms Hawksworth said.
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