The Tasmanian Liberal government released its first budget on August 28. About 1500 people protested outside Parliament House on the same day to voice their opposition to the government’s plans.
The budget will cut 700 full-time jobs from the public sector and freeze public sector wages for at least one year.
School attendant and United Voice member Ken Martindale addressed the rally about the impact the pay freeze will have on low-income families in Tasmania, saying that bills will go up each year even if pay does not.
He said a pay rise of $25 per week for some low-income workers, which had been previously negotiated for school attendants, “could be the difference between filling up their car, taking their child to the doctor, or trying to feed their family”.
Martindale also objected to the new anti-protest laws that infringe on people’s right to protest such decisions. Community and Public Sector Union federal secretary Karen Batt said that cuts to jobs and wages would lead to economic contraction, as it has done in other states, because families will have less money to invest back in the economy.
CPSU state assistant secretary Mat Johnston said the government’s plans to change the law so the state Industrial Relations Commission can make decisions only in alignment with the government wages policy, is a serious threat to workers’ rights, in effect destroying their ability to bargain with their employer about wages.
The treasurer has left it up to departments to find more savings and to determine which jobs will be cut, causing anxiety and confusion among the public sector workforce. Over twelve boards and committees have been abolished, including the Climate Action Council.