Councils urged to consider pay freeze

Peter Gutwein

Peter Gutwein

TREASURER Peter Gutwein has urged Tasmanian councils to consider their own one-year wage freeze, despite increasing backlash against the state government's plan.

Mr Gutwein's call came a day after cabinet signed off on legislation to enforce a 12-month ``pay pause'' for the state's public servants, which would be followed by 2 per cent yearly increases.

Speaking at his first Local Government Association state conference in Hobart yesterday, Mr Gutwein also encouraged delegates to cut their allowances.

``As elected representatives, I think its incumbent on all of us to personally shoulder some of the burden, and I would encourage you to consider a pay pause as well.

``I believe it would send the right message to our communities that we're all pulling our weight in difficult times.''

Political analyst Kate Crowley said Mr Gutwein's message to councillors should come as no surprise.

``It is exactly what you would expect of a conservative government . . . they have an abhorrence to spending in the public sector,'' Professor Crowley said.

``If local councils reject his advice it gives the government grounds to say, `we suggested you do your own cost-cutting so don't come to us for more money'.''

Legislation required to enforce the state government's own wage freeze would override the authority of the Tasmanian Industrial Commission as the independent arbiter of industrial awards.

The legislation would nullify terms of an enterprise bargaining agreement struck last year, which entitles public servants to 2 per cent pay rises each year.

Professor Crowley warned that too much interference with the commission's role in the industrial relations process could cause mayhem.

``Overriding the commission's authority through political decision-making is like poking a snake,'' she said.

``The government would run the risk of industrial relations becoming much more erratic, uneven and politicised.''

The CEPU and Tasmanian Greens yesterday joined those opposing the government's pay freeze plans, labelling the move ``cynical, offensive and a betrayal of trust''.

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