Premier orders MPs: ‘Don’t take a pay rise’
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her deputy John Barilaro will order all government MPs to deny themselves a pay rise this year if an independent tribunal awards them one.
The government has floated the idea of a public sector wage freeze for all frontline workers this year including nurses, teachers and police due to the crippling economic fallout from COVID-19.
But MPs themselves could be offered the standard 2.5 per cent increase when the independent Parliamentary Remuneration Tribunal makes its annual determination before July 1.
Following inquiries from The Daily Telegraph last night the government revealed it would be up to each MP to decide whether to take the money, but those on the government's side would be ordered not to.
"If the independent PRT were to recommend an increase for politicians, the Premier, Deputy Premier and Treasurer would instruct their members to reject it and we call upon Labor and the Greens to do the same," the statement said.
It was not clear what would happen to an MP if they chose to break ranks and accept the money.
A statement from Labor leader Jodi McKay's office last night said "no MP should get a pay rise", but she stopped short of giving the same ultimatum as the premier.
Treasurer Dom Perrottet has fuelled speculation the government will press ahead with its wage freeze by talking up sacrifices made in the private sector.
"Regardless of what the tribunal recommends, it doesn't make any sense for a politician or staffer to take a pay rise in the current environment, with so many people out of work and household incomes in decline," Mr Perrottet told The Telegraph.
"The 90 per cent of workers in the private sector have faced forced stand downs, massive pay cuts, significant job losses and widespread businesses closures and it is their taxes which pay our wages.
"We are facing the biggest health and economic challenge of our generation."
MPs each get roughly a 2.5 per cent increase each year. An increase of exactly 2.5 per cent would take Ms Berekilian's salary to $418,179, Mr Perrottet to $334,704 and Ms McKay's to $317,361.
The Telegraph understands Labor and the cross bench are in discussions to try and block the wage freeze in the upper house.
Robert Borsak from the Shooters Fishers and Farmers party and Labor's Walt Secord - who both agree MPs should not take a pay rise - said they were considering trying to block the wage freeze for workers in the upper house.
"At the end of the day we're only a small player, we would need Labor to lead that. If they were to move a motion to disallow … we would consider that," Mr Borsak said.
Mr Secord said his party would use "every device" to stop the wage freeze.
"On one hand, the Premier gives massive pay rise to top fat cats bringing them to almost $600,000 a year and she bloats the senior executive service to record levels of more than 3250, but she wants to cut the pay for workers," he said.
"She does not have a lot of support for such a cruel attack on workers.
"It is easy for the premier to slash wages when she and her treasurer are both chauffeured from their homes to the plush offices at Martin Place."
Originally published as Premier orders MPs: 'Don't take a pay rise'