Today Abigail called out the Minns Government for broken promise after broken promise.
The Minns Government must honour its election promise to address the uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads of teachers. Following negotiations in good faith on 31 May, and reinforced on 22 June, the New South Wales Teachers Federation reached agreement with the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning, and the Treasurer on a heads of agreement to vary the existing award. In an act of betrayal, the Minns Government has now walked away from that deal and offered an inferior four-year award that would introduce a 2½ per cent cap on pay increases. The State Government must rule out a 2½ per cent wage cap or risk a worsening teacher shortage. I cannot begin to tell members how many times I have been driven to make this same, simple statement in this place. If you cannot afford to pay public servants what they deserve, you do not deserve to be in government. What right does a government have to impose this austerity on those who had faith in it? This Government was delivered to power on the backs of working people, many of them teachers, nurses, midwives, paramedics, firefighters and other highly skilled and highly specialised public sector workers. I have gone back through the parliamentary record and I do not think there has been a single sitting day since the New South Wales Labor Government has come to power that I have not been pleading with them to do more to raise revenue in New South Wales. Cutting wasteful spending is all well and good, but what happened to taking on the big end of town and fighting for the people Labor was elected to represent?
So members can imagine my delight to see reported today that the Minns Labor Government has been reading The Greens' election policy platform, specifically our revenue‑raising measures. The Greens have been advocating for a developer rezoning uplift levy and a progressive coal royalty rate for a long time now, and it is heartening to see the Labor Government is considering those extremely modest and sensible proposals. But, inexplicably, it does not seem to be moving with any urgency to deliver those vital revenue measures—and they are urgent. What could possibly be more urgent than stemming the torrent of departing teachers, nurses, midwives and paramedics who are leaving their professions in droves in the face of woefully inadequate wages and conditions?
Earlier today, The Greens proposed a very sensible amendment to payroll tax that would have clawed back at least a quarter of a billion dollars into the State's coffers directly from those big consultancy firms that have shown themselves to be treating the public purse as an extension of their own. Unfortunately, the New South Wales Labor Government was not willing to support that reasonable proposition, apparently preferring to maintain a hugely lucrative tax loophole for the big end of town instead of honouring the deal they made with the public school teachers of this State. The Premier has sought to defend imposing a 2.5 per cent salary cap on the wages of teachers. A 2.5 per cent salary offer is shockingly out of touch with the lived reality of teachers in New South Wales. A 2.5 per cent salary offer is exactly what The Greens have campaigned against for years and years, since it was last imposed by the cruel and miserly Coalition Government. To seek to impose this cap, after promising to scrap the cap, is an insult and a slap in the face.
The Minns Labor Government claims it is scrapping the pay cap, but it is almost worse to be actively choosing to impose a pay rate at the same rate as the cap. There is no excuse. This woefully inadequate pay offer is so far below what is acceptable and what was promised, and it is an active decision by this New South Wales Labor Government, which really should know better. The Greens back the demands of teachers and we back the demands of paramedics and health workers for a fair pay rise, for better working conditions and for a fair go from a government that seems more than happy to use them up in their pursuit of power only to then discard them as soon as it becomes convenient. It is, frankly, reprehensible. I know I am not alone in condemning this betrayal by the Chris Minns Labor Government.
Read the full Hansard transcript here.