Some of the state’s most senior government officials have been given a pay rise
Premier Gladys Bereiklian has been heavily criticised by the opposition and unions for generous pay rises to department heads, with allegations she is ‘tossing bags of money’ at them.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has helped seven of her top bureaucrats get identical salaries, prompting claims she was “pampering” them and angering frontline workers.
Decisions published by the NSW Remuneration Tribunal reveal a bunch of department bosses had their base salary set at $599,000 in 2019, following recommendations from Ms Berejiklian.
The biggest pay rise was for Infrastructure NSW chief executive and coordinator general Simon Draper, who went up from $533,050 the previous year – an increase of 12.37 per cent. The reward was, in part for Mr Draper taking on “functions previously undertaken by the former Barangaroo Delivery Authority and Urban Growth” the tribunal ruled in August.
The smallest increase was just over one per cent for NSW Treasury secretary Mike Pratt, who was already earning $592,300 and moved to $599,000.
Department of Education secretary Mark Scott, Transport boss Rodd Staples, Communities and Justice secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter, Health secretary Elizabeth Koff were all increased to the same pay rate from July 1 last year. Department of Customer Services secretary Emma Hogan was also placed on $599,000, although her previous salary is not known.
Ms Berejiklian did, however, scrap a system of 12 per cent discretionary bonuses for senior executives in the last state budget.
It is understood the salaries were equalised out of fairness, given the seven bureaucrats had the same level of responsibility.
But shadow treasurer Walt Secord said he believed the premier was trying to “pamper and humour” senior bureaucrats by placing them on the same wage.
“Simply handing chief executive officers and department secretaries massive pay increases so they are all financially equal is a stupid and expensive way to pamper and humour them,” Mr Secord said.
“Gladys Berejiklian is tossing bags of money to department secretaries and CEOs – glorified desk jockeys – in Martin Place and North Sydney, but then on the other hand is forcing nurses, teachers, rail workers, police officers and cleaners to put up an almighty fight for their legislated 2.5 per cent increase.”
Firefighters, health and public sector unions were furious to learn of the pay rises yesterday, given the government was considering freezing the standard 2.5 per cent increase for front line workers.
“The Liberal Government is paying huge pay rises to hand-picked executives whilst at the same time planning wage freezes for the rest of us,” Leighton Drury from the Fire Brigade Employees Union said. “For those of us who have been on the front line of devastating bushfires, storm events and COVID pandemic, this is beyond the pale.”
Public Service Association general secretary Stewart Little said senior public servants getting pay rises above 2.5 per cent was especially hard to accept for frontline prison and hospital staff.
“We’ve been at 2.5 (per cent) since 2011 … I had an officer at Kempsey who had a knife to his throat for five hours yesterday,” Mr Little said.
“So many of our guys … are being asked to perform miracles and they don’t ever get more than 2.5.”
The NSW Teacher’s Federation said its members, who start their careers on $70,652 were expecting a 2.28 per cent pay rise in January.
A statement from the Department of Premier and Cabinet last night said it was the tribunal who set the wage increases but did not explain why the figure of $599,000 had been chosen.
“In making its final determinations, the Tribunal takes into account a number of factors including salary levels in other jurisdictions and comparable organisations,” she said.
The Daily Telegraph
13 May 2020