This speech was delivered on 22 August 2013 in the NSW Upper House. You can read the full debate online here.
STATUTORY AND OTHER OFFICES REMUNERATION ACT 1975: DISALLOWANCE OF THE STATUTORY AND OTHER OFFICES REMUNERATION (JUDICIAL AND OTHER OFFICE HOLDERS) AMENDMENT REGULATION 2013
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [10.50 a.m.]: The Greens support the Opposition’s disallowance motion for a number of reasons. First, we are against the Government’s public sector policy which allows the regulation-making power of the finance Minister to override the Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Tribunal and the Industrial Relations Commission and enables the Executive to impose its will upon public servants, particularly judges, magistrates, public defenders and Crown prosecutors who need to be above the political fray. If their remuneration and conditions of employment are subject to the whim of the Executive, it is poor policy.
Secondly, The Greens lend their strong support to this disallowance motion because just yesterday this House made a principled decision in relation to the superannuation of the other 410,000 public sector workers in New South Wales. The flawed rationale the Government put forward for its public sector wages policy is that it will allow 2.5 per cent because for the past 16 years that has been the long-term average inflation rate expectation of the Reserve Bank and the public sector wages policy is meant to allow wages and remuneration to keep check with inflation so that the salary of people is not eroded over time. To take part of a person’s salary and place it into their superannuation is directly against that principle of allowing the remuneration or salary of a person to rise so as to meet inflation costs.
People cannot buy their groceries or pay their power bill, mortgage or rent out of their superannuation, regardless of what the Treasurer might have said in budget estimates. It makes no sense to have 99 per cent of public sector workers receive their full 9.25 per cent superannuation entitlement without having to pay for the increase out of their wage packets and leave a small group of public servants, judges, magistrates, Crown Prosecutors and public defenders in an entirely separate pool having to pay for the increase in the superannuation levy out of their wage packet. It is wrong in principle to have those two separate classes of public servants with different superannuation rights by reason of the Government’s regulation.
I hope that this disallowance motion gets the strong support of the majority of this House. The Government’s rhetoric that it will cost $800 million to give judges, magistrates, Crown Prosecutors, defenders and Clerks of the Parliament an extra quarter of a per cent in superannuation contributions is ridiculous. The Government talks about the Opposition’s lack of financial nous but that is obvious nonsense from the Government. It is clear that the Government has not done the numbers and has no idea what it will cost. I can advise that to give parity on superannuation it will cost a tiny fraction of that grossly inflated $800 million which the Parliamentary Secretary foolishly threw into the debate earlier.