The government has announced a pay freeze for public service workers who earn $60,000 or more a year. Public service workers are people who are paid by the government. They are teachers, nurses hospital doctors, police, army, and staff who work in parliament. The three-year pay freeze will mean anyone earning over $100,000 will not have a pay increase in that time. Anyone earning over $60,000 will also get no pay increase for the next three years unless their job changes and involves more difficult work in that period.
Government debt has increased during the period of Covid-19 when many businesses were affected, especially those relying on international tourists. The government provided a wage subsidy during lockdowns so that workers did not lose their jobs. The Minister of Finance argues that now is not the time to increase government debt with pay rises.
Many of these workers like nurses and teachers say that Covid-19 has made their job much harder. Nurses have looked after patients with the virus, teachers have needed to adapt their usual face-to-face lessons to digital lessons. They feel that they should be rewarded for their extra efforts.
It is possible that some public servants will move to a similar job in the private sector where they may receive higher pay. Pay rates for health workers in Australia are higher than here, so it is also possible some nurses and doctors will move to Australia.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins has explained that the intention is that lower-paid workers will get pay rises, thereby decreasing inequality and ensuring that money goes to the people who need it the most.
private sector – businesses owned by a person or company which need to make a profit
subsidy – part pay
thereby – as a result