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QLD nurses demand answers

Hundreds of angry nurses rallied outside Queensland parliament to protest against the ongoing pay debacle.

Queensland's health minister says underpaid workers aren't interested in laying blame for the Queensland Health payroll debacle - they just want it fixed.

More than 300 protesters rallied outside parliament house in Brisbane last week, saying the government must tell them how and when the payroll system will be fixed.

The rally coincided with a ninth straight chaotic pay run since the new system was adopted more than four months ago, which has left thousands of workers underpaid or overpaid.

Health Minister Paul Lucas faced a fiery budget estimates hearing, where Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle demanded he take full blame for the problems.

But Lucas said he would only accept full responsibility for fixing the problem, and he didn't think affected staff were interested in blame.

"I don't think, if you're a nurse who's not got the right pay or been underpaid, you frankly care - you just want it fixed," Lucas said.

McArdle later told reporters that during the hearing Lucas could not answer the total costs involved or when the problem would be solved.

"The best I understand is at least 12 months," he said.

Lucas told reporters he could not give a date, but it would take "some months to get it absolutely accurate".

Lucas told the hearing that 11,500 Queensland Health staff who received excessive payments of up to $200 on or before July 1 won't have to return the money because it would cost the government too much to recover.

But a smaller number who have received around $8.6 million in overpayments will have to pay back the money.

While McArdle supported the move, the Queensland Nurses Union, which organised the protest, said the $200 was chicken feed compared with what some employees were owed.

Union secretary Gay Hawksworth said that after four months of disruptions to the financial affairs of workers, nurses wanted straight answers.

"What we want to know is, if this system is going to work, then how long is it going to take?" she said.

"Or what they're going to do about putting a new system in, and how long will that take?"

Bundaberg Base Hospital nurse Jennifer Macklin fought back tears as she told reporters at the rally she'd just found out she'd been underpaid again.

"I got paid $800. I estimated that I should be paid around the $1800 mark. It's heartbreaking," she said.

Aurukun nurse Josh Stafford, who travelled from the far north Queensland community to join the protest, said his pay had also fallen short again.

"It would run into the hundreds of dollars easily this week. Since the new payroll has been introduced I'd be out of pocket $6000," he said.


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