Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr ROCKLIFF
For years your Government has taken for granted the many thousands of Tasmanians who keep this island and its essential services running. At every turn, you have ignored unions and workers across the public sector as they have, in good faith, raised matters critical to them and their work. Workplace safety and conditions, resources and support, recruitment and retention and fair pay are among issues that apparently have not warranted genuine attention. Now the chickens are racing home as you face industrial action from nurses, paramedics, firefighters, teachers and community services staff. This week's attempt to convince health workers to give up their industrial rights was your Government's latest insulting move. When will you and your ministers stop trying to play tricky games and start working on delivering our public sector workforce the pay and conditions they deserve?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question.
Ms O'Connor - We have industrial chaos.
Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, please.
Mr ROCKLIFF - I am not sure what voice you had around the cabinet table when your government decided to sack a nurse a day for nine months, where you were advocating for our nurses then -
Ms O'Byrne - You know that is not true. You regularly get up and say something that is not true.
Mr SPEAKER - Order, member for Bass.
Mr ROCKLIFF - Then there was another example of job losses in the forest industry and our valued resource-based industries through that horrid time of government when the economy effectively went into recession. The public service was also cut at the front line as well and a very good example of that is the nurses in our hospitals.
The member mentioned our offer, in good faith, a fairer offer because it extends to more frontline health staff and removes any uncertainty about the payment due to the escalation and de-escalation of hospitals and health services. Around 3500 hardworking Tasmanian workers will receive this payment over and above the currently agreed but limited COVID-19 escalation allowance. This allowance also provides them with the payment now that it is not reliant on future escalation periods that may or may not tip over the 30-day threshold, and it better recognises workers in the north-west and district hospitals who have spent less time receiving the existing escalation allowance.
It is broader, fairer, easier to understand and available now. We believe the new frontline health allowance is a better way of supporting our nurses and health workers who have done it tough during the pandemic. We are not alone in this. The AMF yesterday in their communication with staff has called this 'good news' and has encouraged their members to respond to a survey. I am advised that early indications are that the allowance has been received positively.
That is an example of where a government puts an offer on the table and through good faith and negotiations comes to an even better arrangement, as indicated by the nurses and the AMF who have said this is good news. I hope and expect a resolution to this very important matter. I value the work of our paramedics, nurses, allied health professionals, doctors and everyone across our health system who has worked so hard over the last two years.
I have demonstrated in my eight years of being a minister and my seven years as education minister my willingness to sit down and work with our highly valued workforce and that will continue.