NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has said the wage freeze for public sector workers such as doctors, teachers and nurses will ensure more jobs can be created in the state.
According to ABS unemployment data, 221,000 NSW residents lost their job last month.
“We don’t come to this decision lightly,” Mr Perrottet said.
“This is not about the budget. This is not about savings. This is about creating jobs right across the state.”
Mr Perrottet said the government would seek to implement the pay freeze via regulation, and it would apply to new pay agreements as they arise over the coming months.
He said the government would not attempt to unwind existing agreements.
The Treasurer added that the plan would ensure “every dollar we have here in New South Wales is invested” in creating and protecting jobs.
“This is not an easy decision. But it’s the right decision – a fair decision, and one for the greater good.”
with Lisa Visentin
NSW public sector pay will be frozen for 12 months, as the state deals with the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced this morning.
Ms Berejiklian said the state’s new policy would include a guarantee of no forced redundancies for all workers who are not at a senior executive level.
The Premier said the pay freeze was about “keeping all of our employees in jobs”, but also supporting the 90 per cent of people in the state who do not work for the government.
“Today’s decision isn’t taken lightly,” she said.
“But I also hope that it is an opportunity for us to bring everybody together – whether it is the Parliament, whether it’s the unions, whether it’s all stakeholders. This is a time for us to come together and work together.”
Ms Berejiklian added: “Whilst we are recovering from the health consequences of the pandemic we have yet to come to terms with the economic shock. Job security is essential on our path to recovery.”
with Mary Ward
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has said federal border security agencies were following a protocol put in place by the state government when it notified health officials about sick crew on board the Al Kuwait.
In an ABC interview, Mr Littleproud also hit out at Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan, warning him it was beholden on political leaders to ensure “the tone of conversation that we put forward is one that is respectful of the efforts of our Australians in these trying times”.
“From the evidence that’s provided to me, the department of agriculture has stuck to the protocols outlined to them by the states,” Mr Littleproud said.
“We’re not medical professionals, we don’t make diagnosis on COVID-19, we hand the information over to the health professionals to make that diagnosis and it’s important we allow them to do it. It would be dangerous otherwise.”
Mr Littleproud said the protocol set out by the state government was to notify them through an email address set up by WA Health for use with issues relating to the Artania cruise ship.
The Agriculture Minister said he hadn’t spoken with the Premier today because the time difference with the eastern states meant Mr McGowan “could still be in his jammies”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has avoided playing the “blame game” regarding the situation in an interview with Sky News’ Peter Stefanovic on Wednesday morning.
Mr Morrison said, ultimately, state authorities were responsible for human health, federal agriculture department staff for live export animal health, and Border Force for any clearances, passports, visas and related items for entry to Australia.
In his view the process was being applied effectively.
“Those individuals who have been tested positive have been isolated … everyone else has remained on the vessel. So I’m not interested in the blame game on this,” he said.
“Everyone’s doing the job they should be doing. And we’ll work closely with the [McGowan] government.”
The two eastern suburbs school students who were diagnosed with COVID-19 yesterday were aged 10 and 12 and travelled to school by car, NSW Health has said.
The children were the only two cases recorded in the state in the most recent daily reporting period, bringing the state’s case total to 3089 after five older cases were excluded.
A 10-year-old student at Moriah College in Queens Park was confirmed with COVID-19 and is now recovering at home. A total of 28 students and 3 teachers were identified as close contacts from the school
A 12-year-old student at Waverley College was confirmed with COVID-19 and is recovering at home. A total of 44 students and 10 teachers were identified as close contacts from the school,
Both schools have been closed for deep cleaning with contact tracing and further investigations underway.
Some more details on that Singapore-flagged cargo ship which has caused the debris on some Sydney beaches this morning: it is now heading to Brisbane, a departure from its intended destination of Melbourne.
Face masks and other items from the APL England, have washed up on NSW beaches today after 40 containers were lost from the ship on Sunday.
The containers lost overboard not only contained medical supplies but a wide range of goods including household appliances and building materials.
The ship was en route from China to Melbourne when it struck turbulent seas and was forced to change course and head to Brisbane, AAP reports.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority officials boarded the ship on Tuesday when it was anchored in Moreton Bay off the Sunshine Coast.
AMSA surveyors conducted a seaworthiness inspection to check the structural and operational condition of the ship following the collapse of container stacks on the deck.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will address the media at 11.30am today.
This is the first week the Premier has not been giving her daily 8am coronavirus updates, taking Victoria’s lead in holding more sporadic press conferences on the pandemic situation. (Queensland, however, remains quite committed to feeding through case information and updates before 10am each day.)
Speaking on the Today show this morning, Ms Berejiklian denied there was any tension between her and her Queensland counterpart after strong words were exchanged between the pair on borders last week, claiming the pair “get on famously” at national cabinet.
“I’ll express my views on what I think is best for our citizens, that’s my job,” the Premier said.
“And I think we’re all adults and we can have these conversations. In a democracy not everybody’s going to agree all the time, but what we should do is have a healthy discussion, a healthy conversation about what we think is guiding the nation’s interests.”
The Australian National University has flagged they are considering wage freezes and redundancies as it seeks to find an additional $100 million in savings this year.
In an email to staff, the university said its senior management group would take a 10 per cent pay cut for the second half of 2020 and Vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt will take a 20 per cent pay cut.
Professor Schmidt said the university would need to find an additional $100 million this year and $150 million next year as it deals with reduced income from international students, despite deferring some capital projects.
He asked staff to consider if “now is the best time” for them to receive their scheduled pay rise in July under their enterprise agreement.
The Herald‘s chief photographer Nick Moir is at Gordons Bay, where council workers and SES volunteers are cleaning up debris, including face masks, which has washed up after 40 shipping containers fell off a cargo ship on Sunday.
Randwick City Council told reporter Laura Chung Maroubra Beach is closed due to the possibility of submerged items.
“We ask that people don’t pick up rubbish but report it to Council or NSW ports,” a council spokesperson said.
“We are keeping a record of material collected and the cost to see if we can recover our costs.”
Victoria’s Royal Commission into the mental health system has been given a three-month extension to deliver its final report.
The report will now be delivered on February 5 next year, after public hearings and meetings were cancelled due to the pandemic.
Premier Daniel Andrews said it would also give the Royal Commission the chance to investigate the impact the pandemic has had on mental health.
“It is better to take a little longer and get this absolutely right,” he told reporters this morning.
“This is a broken system … A better system, a better future, can only be achieved, can only be built, if we listen to those who know and understand these issues and challenges best.”
Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said the COVID-19 emergency added a new element and extra pressures to everyone in the mental health system.
“If we needed a Royal Commission into our Australian mental health system before the pandemic, we certainly need it now,” Mr Foley said.
He added that the struggling economy and skyrocketing unemployment would continue to have impacts on the community.
Royal Commission chair Penny Armytage said the commission’s work continued despite the “unique and challenging time”.
She said COVID-19 also showed that – following last summer’s bushfire crisis – that the mental health system needed to be better equipped to handle crises in the future.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636.