Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Public Sector Industrial Relations

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:14): Supplementary question: in order to stem the impact of inflation, does the minister support increasing the wages of public sector workers?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:14): I thank the honourable member for his question. It is a good question and making sure people have a wage that can afford a decent quality of life is exceptionally important. That is exactly why, after we saw so many years of the former Liberal government refusing to entertain wage increases for some of the hardest working state public sector employees, when we got into government we changed that.

We didn't have a policy of just saying no to everything. Ambulance officers, firefighters had years without a single pay rise. It was outrageous and it devalued some of our hardest working people in this state. We came in, we acted in a good faith manner with the public sector unions and we have, in one year, done what the Liberal government—and particularly the former Minister for Industrial Relations—failed to do in a whole term.

We had wage increases for nurses, we had wage increases for ambulance officers, for firefighters—many of these unions who had been struggling even to get a dialogue with the government let alone to negotiate. We have a very different approach from the former government.