$1m to oppose ambo rise

THE state government has racked up a $1 million legal bill fighting a pay rise for ambulance paramedics.

The former Labor government hired a Victorian law firm to represent it  last year when the Health and Community Services Union took a paramedic wages fight to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission.

Last month the TIC awarded the state's 300 paramedics a 14.1 per cent pay rise.

A right-to-information request by HACSU has now revealed that the government's legal bill totalled $1,016,054.

And the new Liberal state government is using the same law firm to appeal against the TIC decision in the Supreme Court.

HACSU state secretary Tim Jacobson said the ``extraordinary'' legal bill didn't count the use of internal Ambulance Tasmania and government resources.

``I can't think of a time when the government would have spent that much money pursuing an industrial relations matter in this state,'' Mr Jacobson said.

``We did the quick maths of it, and what it meant is for every day that their barrister stood up in the Industrial Commission, it cost the Tasmanian taxpayer somewhere in the order of $170,000.''

Mr Jacobson said HACSU spent about $150,000 on the case.

He said he hoped the Liberal government would better scrutinise legal costs of the appeal.

A state government spokeswoman said it was too early to say how much legal fees were likely to be in relation to the appeal.

``What is clear is that the current budget situation means Tasmania cannot afford this pay rise, which is seven times greater than other public servants,'' she said.

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