Politicians trade barbs over public sector pay

Nationals MLC Wes Fang has strongly rejected the claim of Wagga Councillor and former Labor candidate for the seat of Wagga Daniel Hayes that he has betrayed public sector workers by voting for a pay freeze.

“On Tuesday, National Party MLC Wes Fang voted in favour of a pay freeze for health workers, police, and teachers,” Cr Hayes said.

“Despite congratulating health workers on his social media for their hard work in April, he has then turned around six weeks later and betrayed them.”

Cr Hayes wants every nurse, teacher, and police officer to remember Mr Fang and the National Party as the ones who “threaten a pay freeze or they will fire you instead.”

“This is what Mr Fang does, says one thing in Wagga then sneaks off to Sydney and does the opposite,” he said.

“Despite billions of dollars of project mismanagement including the $3 billion Sydney Metro blowout, $1.3 billion light rail blowout, and the $99 million Sydney Football Stadium blowout, the Government is trying to lay blame on those who have been called upon the most during Covid-19,” Cr Hayes said.

“Faced with the proposed pay freeze being blocked in the NSW Legislative Council, the NSW Government will now look at spending taxpayer’s money taking all those workers to the industrial court.”

Cr Hayes believes that if they are successful with this, the Government will be hurting small businesses even more as those workers will have less money to spend in the cafes, shops and restaurants.

“The once great National Party would be horrified to see regional small businesses and regional workers treated so poorly” Cr Hayes said.

Mr Fang, however, sees it quite differently, claiming the Government move is aimed at protecting jobs.

“I absolutely value all our NSW front-line workers,” he said. 

“Indeed, my wife a front-line health worker.  Our pause in the pay rise for public sector jobs, offset by a $1,000 payment, allows us to protect those positions.  We do this in the climate of increasing unemployment, or reduced wages for the approximate 90 per cent of private sector workers in the State.”

Mr Fang said those private sector workers who have lost their job, or are receiving reduced hours due to the Covid-19 pandemic, must be shaking their heads at “highly-paid members like Dan Hayes having a tantrum to receive a pay rise, all while rural and regional families are concerned about putting food on the table.”

“This is particularly felt by families in the Snowy Valleys Council area, with families around the Tumut, Tumbarumba, Batlow and Adelong focused on protecting jobs from fire and drought-affected industries like forestry, horticulture and agriculture,” he said.

“These are industries the Nationals in government are working hard to support at this time, to project jobs and our communities.  It’s these people I am fighting for and with that in mind, I make no apology for voting to freeze wages.”

He believes the biggest surprise is Cr Hayes deciding to be vocal on this issue. 

“As a Wagga Wagga Councillor, he’s been conspicuously silent on the proposed Local Government NSW negotiations, where it’s believed there’s one proposal there for a pay freeze for council workers,” he said.

“As a Councillor, responsible for Council’s budget, he says nothing about muted council worker’s pay freeze.  He is a hypocrite.”

Mr Fang said Cr Hayes “should know better than to issue cut-and-paste information from the Sydney-centric Sussex Street Labor machine.”

“He should meet with those workers and their families in the Snowy Valleys LGA, who are just fighting to protect local jobs, and explain why he thinks a pay rise at this time is appropriate,” he said.