War of words between unions and state government

Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage has condemned a Unions NSW doorknocking "scare campaign" which she says is misleading to Blue Mountains voters.

Mrs Sage said the Australian Services Union has been distributing material in the region containing "outright lies about Sydney Water".

"The NSW Government has no plans to privatise Sydney Water," said Mrs Sage.

"True to form, NSW Labor is enlisting the support of its union mates to spread lies and dupe the people of the Mountains."

However Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon said the 50 local workers doorknocking in the Blue Mountains over the February 14-15 weekend "all had their own story to tell about their fears for our public assets and services" including concerns about registered nurses in aged care and also electricity privatisation.

"It's not a scare campaign, it's a truth campaign. It's just that the truth is scary."

Australian Services Union deputy secretary Natalie Lang said she wanted "Roza to make a simple commitment that she will never support the privatisation of Sydney Water".

"We will not stand by and let this government privatise public assets," adding "the ASU has been calling upon the Baird Government to rule out privatising Sydney Water. They have continued to fail to make that commitment."

Ms Lang, who lives in the Blue Mountains, added Mrs Sage would "rather attack union members in our community than stand up for them".

Mr Lennon, who claimed Mrs Sage was "out of touch with her electorate", said "workers were out in droves talking to voters about cuts to TAFE, privatisation of electricity and the Americanisation of our health system".

NSW Nurses and Midwives Association registered nurse Jocelyn Hofman from Hazelbrook said changes to federal aged care laws affect state legislation and put at risk the requirement to have registered nurses in nursing homes 24/7.

"Only registered nurses perform the more complex procedures, such as inserting catheters and naso-gastric tubes. Without an RN on duty, residents can be sent to emergency for minor reasons, putting more strain on hospital staff and often leaving our elderly patients overwhelmed and disoriented, this is just unacceptable," Mrs Hofman said.

And electrical worker Peter Johnson from Valley Heights said he is worried about the planned privatisation of the state's electricity network.

"Selling our electricity network will leave a black hole in the budget each year that will impact on our health and education revenue so it is not a long-term solution."

Mrs Sage said the Baird government took the registered nurses issues seriously and NSW Health was half way through a year-long review and also consulting with key stakeholders including nursing, medical groups, care service providers and Commonwealth regulators.

"The NSW Government ensured that the existing requirements were retained for 18 months to enable a review to be completed."

On electricity, Mrs Sage said the government's plan would "turbocharge the economy with huge investment in vital infrastructure".

A registered nurses community forum will be held on Wednesday, March 25 at Springwood Sports Club from 10-12 noon.

Blue Mountains Gazette, By B.C Lewis