New South Wales Parliament Rejects Pay Freeze Bill

June 2, 2020 Updated: June 2, 2020

New South Wales (NSW) Parliament voted on June 2 against the bill to freeze wage increases for public service workers. The NSW government will now take the matter to the Industrial Relations Commission on June 4.

Upper house and crossbenchers with support from unions kept true to their word and blocked the legislation that would pause wage increases for 12-months, instead offering a guarantee of no redundancies and a one-off $1,000 payment. The one-off $1,000 did not apply to senior executives.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said in a media statement that Labor and crossbenchers had shown little regard for “the thousands lining up outside Centrelink and approaching charities for food hampers, because they can no longer afford to put food on the table.”

Labor MP Adam Searle, who successfully introduced the motion to disallow the regulation, said it was an “act of economic vandalism” that would cut the purchasing power of 400,000 workers in the state.

Around eight million people live in NSW, and an estimated 500,000 are currently out of work. Perrottet said that creating new jobs is a top priority, not giving pay rises to those already with secure jobs.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian previously said that there was a risk of job losses if Labor and crossbenchers blocked the wage pause. She also warned that when the matter is taken to the Industrial Relations Commission the one-off stimulus payment and job security would be off the table.

Labor MP Jodi McKay has vehemently opposed the bill.

“For the Berejiklian Government to press on would be in defiance of the NSW Parliament and all accepted economic wisdom,” she wrote on Twitter.

The economic impact of the Chinese Communist Party virus in NSW has been severe, Porrettet has compared it to the great depression. He has called for a focus on recovering from this economic crisis by getting more people back to work.

He wrote on Twitter: “Our decision to pause public service pay rises for 1 year wasn’t arrived at easily. But with hundreds of thousands out of work, it’s the right one. In light of today’s disallowance (& rejection of $1,000 to frontline staff) we’ll await a decision from the IRC.”

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast Berejiklina said: “Once JobKeeper runs out, we don’t know how many of those employees will stay employed and how many will join the Centrelink queues,” she said.

“It’s a very difficult time.”