The Labour Relations of Public Health Care Reform in New South Wales

  • Nadine White
  • Mark Bray


The Australian health care system has changed considerably over recent years – for patients and workers alike. This paper examines one part – albeit a very important part – of that changing system; namely, the public hospitals in New South Wales. This is the most populous of the Australian states, providing 6 1/2 million of the country’s total population of around 19 million. The public health system in New South Wales annually accounts over $7 billion in expenditure, which represents almost one quarter of the state government’s budget, and employs around 100,000 staff, approximately 90 percent of whom work in public hospitals operated by NSW Health.


Public Hospital Human Resource Management Labour Relation Private Health Insurance Industrial Relation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Donato R., Scotton R. The Australian Health Care System. In: Mooney G., Scotton R., editors. Economics and Australian Health Policy. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1999.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Whelan J. Pressure mounts for more hospital funding. Sydney Morning Herald, 10 November 1999.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Palmer G. Health Insurance and Financing. In: Head B., Patience A., editors. From Fraser to Hawke: Australian Public Policy in the 1980s. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1989.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gray G. Health Policy. In: Jennett C., Stewart R., editors, Hawke and Australian Public Policy. Melbourne: Macmillan, 1990.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Commonwealth Department of Health & Aged Care. Reforming the Australian Health Care System: The Role of Government, Occasional Papers: New Series No. 1. AGPS: Canberra, 1999.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Private Health Insurance Administration Council, 2004 Scholar
  7. 7.
    Degeling G., Thomas D. Health Policy. In: Laffin M., Painter, M., editors. Reform and Reversal: Lessons from the Coalition Government in NSW 1988–1995. Melbourne: Macmillan, 1995.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Collyer F. Privatisation and the Public Purse: The Port Macquarie Base Hospital. Just Policy 1997Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Pusey M. Economic Rationalism in Canberra. Sydney: Cambridge University Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bell S. Ungoverning the Economy. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    George J., Davis A. States of Health: Health and Illness in Australia, 3rd edition. South Melbourne: Longman, 1998.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Galbally R. Placing Prevention at the Centre of Health Sector Reform. In: Bloom A., editor. Health Reform in Australia and New Zealand. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    New South Wales Health Council. A Better Health System for NSW, Sydney: NSW Government, 2000.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    NSW Ministerial Advisory Committee on Health Services in Smaller Towns. Report to the Minister for Health: A Framework for Change (Sinclair Report). Sydney: NSW Health Department, 2000.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Davis A. Managerialised Health Care. In: Rees S., Rodley G., editors. The Human Costs of Managerialism, Sydney: Pluto Press, 1995.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Allen C., Barry M. The Private Hospitals’ Association of Queensland. In: Sheldon P., Thornthwaite L., editors. Employer Associations and Industrial Relations Change. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1999.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Stoelwinder J., Viney R. A Tale of Two States: New South Wales and Victoria. In: Bloom A., editor. Health Reform in Australia and New Zealand. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    New South Wales Health. Planning Better Health: Background Information. July 2004.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Gilbert R., Gibberd B., Stewart J. The New South Wales Resource Allocation Formula: a method for equitable health funding. Australian Health Review 1992Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    NSW Health Department SES Guidelines (
  21. 21.
    NSW Health Department. Annual Reports. Sydney: NSW Health Department, 1991/2–1998/99.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    O’Donnell M. Continuity and Change: The New South Wales Public Sector Under Labor. Australian Journal of Public Administration 2000, 59 (4): 93–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Leeder S. Healthy Medicine: Challenges facing Australia’s health services. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1999.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    NSW Health. NSW Public Hospital/Health Comparison Data Books. Sydney: NSW Health Department, 1991/92–1998/99.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bray M. Ostenfeld S. Recent Developments in Australian Industrial Relations: A Unique Experience?. New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations 1999, 24 (3): 219–29.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    McCallum R., Ronfeldt P. Our Changing Labour Law. In: Ronfeldt P., McCallum R., editors. Enterprise Bargaining, Trade Unions and the Law. Sydney: Federation Press, 1995.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Shaw J. In Defence of the Collective: New South Wales Industrial Relations in the 21st Century. Journal of Industrial Relations 1997Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Jamieson S. Industrial Relations. In: Laffin M., Painter M., editors. Reform and Reversal: Lessons from the Coalition Government in NSW 1988–1995, Melbourne: Macmillan, 1995.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Shaw J. A Balanced Industrial Relations Reform Package for New South Wales. Journal of Industrial Relations 1996Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Painter M. Microeconomic Reform and the Public Sector. In Laffin M., Painter M., editors. Reform and Reversal: Lessons from the Coalition Government in NSW 1988–1995, Melbourne: Macmillan, 1995.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    NSW Premier’s Department. Reform and Redirection: Using Corporate Services Reform to Enhance Government Services in NSW. Sydney: NSW Government Printer, 1999.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    White N., Bray M. An Exceptional Case? (The Lack of) Enterprise Bargaining in NSW Public Hospitals. In Burgess J., Macdonald D., editors. Developments in Australian Enterprise Bargaining. Melbourne: Tertiary Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    NSW Health Department, HR2003 Framework.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Legge K. Human Resource Management: Rhetorics & Realities. London: Macmillan, 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Lambert R. State of the Union: An Assessment of Union Strategies. The Economic and Labour Relations Review 1991Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Tomkins M. Trade Union Amalgamations: Explaining the Recent Spate of Mergers in Australia. Labour & Industry 1999Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    McCallum R. Two Approaches to Industrial Relations Reform in New South Wales: The Making of the Industrial Relations Act of 1991 and 1996. In: Nolan D., editor. The Australiasian Labour Law Reforms: Australia and New Zealand at the End of the Twentieth Century. Sydney: Federation Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Allan C. The Elasticity of Endurance: Work Intensification and Workplace Flexibility in the Queensland Public Hospital System. New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations 1997, 23 (3): 133–151.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    O’Donnell M. Empowerment or Enslavement? Lean Production, Immigrant Women and Service Work in Public Hospitals. Labour & Industry 1995Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Willis E. Enterprise Bargaining and Work Intensification: an Atypical Case Study from the South Australia Public Hospital Sector, New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations 2002Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Commissioner Blair. Decision in Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association and the Australian Nursing Federation. Australian Industrial Relations Commission Print K6359. 31 August 2000.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Young S. Public Health in Victoria: The Reform Process. In: Burgess J., Strachan G., editors. Research on Work, Employment and Industrial Relations: Proceedings of the 14th AIRAANZ Conference – Volume 2: Newcastle, 2000.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Braithwaite J. Competition, Productivity and the Cult of “More is Good” in the Australian Health Care Sector. Australian Journal of Public Administration 1997Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Braithwaite J. Identifying the Elements in the Australian Health Service Management Revolution. Australian Journal of Public Administration 1993Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Braithwaite, J. Strategic Management and Organisational Structure: Transformational processes at work in hospitals. Australian Health Review 1993Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Boyce R. A. Organisational governance structures in allied health services: A decade of change. Australian Health Review 2001Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Boyce R. A. Hospital Restructuring – the implication for allied health professionals. Australian Health Review 1991Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    NSW Premiers Department, Ministerial Memorandum 99–10 – Suspension of Advertising and Filling of Vacancies, 1999.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    NSW Health Department. Managing Displaced Employees Policy – Circular No. 2000/78, 2000.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Health Industry Status of Employment Interim (State) Award.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    NSW Health Department. NSW Nursing Workforce Research Project Report 2000, 2000.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Wolff A. M. Recruitment of medical practitioners to rural areas: A practical approach from the coalface. Australian Health Review 1997Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Knowles C. Minister Launches Campaign to Fill 1,100 Nursing Jobs. Minister for Health Media Release, 9 June 2000.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    NSW Health Department, Recruitment and Retention of Nurses Progress Report, 2001.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Allan C. Stabilising the Non-Standard Workforce: Managing Labour Utilisation in Private Hospitals. Labour & Industry 1998Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Allan C. Patterns of Labour Use in a Private Hospital Case Study in Queensland. In Sonder L., editor. Current Research in Industrial Relations: Proceedings of the 9th AIRAANZ Conference, Melbourne, February 1995.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    ACIRRT. Stop Telling Us to Cope Report. Sydney: University of Sydney, 2002.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Strachan G. Not Just a Labour of Love: Industrial Action by Nurses in Australia. Nursing Ethics 1997Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Stanton P. The Impact of Enterprise Bargaining on Union Membership and Organisation in the Victorian Health Sector. Paper Presented to “Ten Year of Enterprise Bargaining” Conference, Newcastle, May 2001.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    NSW Nurses Association,
  61. 61.
    Public Hospital Nurses (State) Award (No. 3), Re [2002] NSWIRComm 325.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Public Hospital Nurses (State) Award (No. 4) Re [2003] NSWIRComm 442.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Allan C. Labour Utilisation in Queensland Hospitals. Unpublished PhD Thesis. Brisbane: Griffith University, 1996.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Ragg M., Whelan, J. Hospitals bar all but the dying. Sydney Morning Herald, 9 November 1999.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Allen L. NSW hospital bed occupancy up. Australian Financial Review, 22 March 2001.Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Whelan J. Doctors despair over sick system. Sydney Morning Herald, 13 August 1999.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Davison N. Running out of care. Newcastle Herald, 21 July 2001.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Cave M., Skulley M. Nurses lead Victoria into workplace chaos. The Australian Financial Review, 13 August 2001.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Workplace Express. IRC to arbitrate Victorian nursing dispute, 20 July 2001.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Leyden F. Angry nurses converge on city. The Age, 17 July 2001.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Shaw M., Toy M-A. Surgery at risk as nurses take action. The Age, 10 August 2001.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Newcastle Herald, We are worth more: nurses. 20 July 2001.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Allison L. Nurses’ work bans start today. Newcastle Herald, 9 August 2001.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Allison L. Nurses close to mass walkout. Newcastle Herald, 11 August 2001.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Robinson M. Hospital Beds hit by dispute. Sydney Morning Herald, 8 August 2001.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    White N., Bray M. The Changing Role of Nurse Unit Managers: A Case of Work Intensification?. Labour & Industry 2003: 14 (2): pp. 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    White N., Bray M., Awards, Managerial Prerogative and Workplace Change: Case Study Evidence from the Health Sector. Paper Presented to 18th AIRAANZ Conference, February 2004, Noosa.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Australian Bureau of Statistics – Catalogue 6310.0, Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Australian Bureau of Statistics – Catalogue 6302.0, Average Weekly Earnings of Employees.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadine White
  • Mark Bray

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations