MLCs slam 'expectations' over budget policies

Launceston independent MLC Rosemary Armitage

Launceston independent MLC Rosemary Armitage

LEGISLATIVE Councillors say they are being treated like "rubber stamps", with the government factoring savings into its budget based on a policy that has not yet been legislated.

The state government yesterday continued to be attacked by unions, Labor, the Greens and MLCs for its wage freeze legislation that would prevent public servants from receiving any automatic pay rises for 12 months.

The legislation, coined the Crown Employees (Salaries) Bill 2014, was tabled on Tuesday and is expected to be debated today.

It forms a significant part of the government's savings strategy, bringing in $50 million a year over the forward estimates, but needs to pass both houses of Parliament separately to budget.

Launceston independent MLC Rosemary Armitage said the government should have put the legislation through Parliament before it handed down the budget.

"It's poor form of the government to expect us to pass legislation to enable their budget," Ms Armitage said.

"If we say 'we support the budget', does that mean you're automatically supporting the wage freeze because we know that the savings in the budget are dependent on the pay freeze?" she said.

"It should be worked on money they've got, not money they hope they'll get if the Legislative Council passes it," she said.

Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest said the legislation created an "enormous concern" for her.

"Freezing public service wages is a knee-jerk reaction to a budget problem that is structural, not a long-term strategy to address the problems of a labour-intensive service deliverer expected to deliver even more in the future," Ms Forrest said.

"I do not appreciate the approach being taken by the government when it is suggested that if 'we', the Legislative Council, do not support this policy the additional 500 jobs that will be lost will be lost as a direct result of our actions," she said.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the pay pause would save 500 jobs.

"I am very happy to provide the upper house with any briefings they request," Mr Gutwein said.

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