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Vic nurses and govt talks break down

Hundreds of nurses will begin doorknocking a key marginal seat as the stalemate with the Baillieu government continues.

Victorian nurses will doorknock the state's most marginal seat in the latest chapter of its protracted feud with the Liberal government for improved pay and conditions.

This comes after talks at Fair Work Australia were suspended on Friday without any progress in the dispute that has now run for eight months.

The union is blaming the government for refusing to budge on its plan to end safe nurse and patient ratios and introduce health assistants to do the job of nurses.

Australian Nursing Federation (Victorian branch) secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said 200 nurses and midwives would doorknock every home in Bentleigh on February 11.

Liberal MP Elizabeth Miller, a former nurse, holds the seat by just 262 votes. "This government is trying to put a dagger through the very heart of the public health system. We're not going to allow that to happen," Fitzpatrick said.

"I think once we point out what this government is trying to do they (voters) will be very disappointed."

Fitzpatrick did not rule out door knocking other marginal seats before the next election, due in November 2014. "It is a little over a thousand days until the next election, (that) doesn't deter us in any way shape or form," she said.

A government spokesman denied the breakdown in the talks with nurses was its fault. "It is fair to say that neither party had significantly moved from their previous position," she said.

"The government remains committed to better wages and conditions for nurses while at the same time seeking to improve Victoria's hospital system."


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