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Issue #1609      September 4, 2013

How much have we learned since March 2012?

Statement, Queensland Nurses’ Union

Queensland’s nurses and midwives have had a lot to contend with since March 2012. We have suffered massive job and service cuts under the Newman LNP government. We have seen unjust changes to Queensland’s industrial relations laws greatly weaken our ability to work together to oppose such cuts.

We have had our right to freely associate and be politically active greatly curtailed by an insecure government with an axe to grind. The Newman government has also released plans to embark on the wholesale privatisation of public services in a wide range of areas, including health.

All of these changes have been rammed through parliament thanks to the government’s huge majority. Once again Queenslanders are seeing how political power can destroy so much good when it is concentrated in one party.

The LNP were silent about these changes before the March 2012 election. No wonder we are still reeling not only from the breadth and depth of the cuts and privatisation, but also what they reveal about how little our contribution is understood or valued by the Newman LNP government.

So much of what we have fought so hard for over many decades is now threatened.

I never thought I would see the day that nurses and midwives fear for their job security. That day is here.

People across Queensland are concerned about how these cuts and changes will weaken the health system they and their families rely on in times of need.

They are also worried about what this attack on nurses and midwives promises for everyone else. If the Newman government can do this to nurses and midwives, nobody’s job is safe.

This parlous situation threatens to become even worse if changes at a federal level mirror those made here in our state. In September, each of us has the chance to show at the ballot box what we have learned since March 2012.

When we cast our vote, we must concentrate on what is in the best interests of our professions collectively, and of those in our care.

For me there are three key areas that require particular attention:

  • Our industrial rights, conditions of employment and job security.
  • Defending and advancing universal health care, ensuring access to care is based on need and not capacity to pay.
  • Valuing the vital role that nurses and midwives play as the lynchpin of our health and aged care system.

They are all central to keeping nursing and midwifery strong. We must be able to articulate not only why they are important but also what we expect our politicians to deliver for us. If our politicians don’t deliver as promised, or if they fail to state their true agendas, we must hold them to account.

Our patients need us to do more than throw our hands up in the air and say politicians are all alike.

We must be prepared to take a stand and fight for our nursing and midwifery and union values. It is up to us to show leadership and not merely demand leadership from politicians.

Power is the ability to influence. It may not always feel like it, but nurses and midwives collectively have a great ability to influence.

That is why the Newman LNP government has been gunning for us. We have shown we will not be bullied or intimidated. We have shown we will stand up and keeping standing for those in our care.

We will never shy away from using our power, from exerting influence and demanding of our politicians that they respond to us on our terms, not theirs.

When you cast your vote at the 2013 federal election, keep your nursing and midwifery and union values at the forefront of your mind. Vote to keep nursing and midwifery strong.

Next article – University of Sydney strike

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