It is over.

Following the receipt of correspondence from the unions this afternoon, the pay freeze proposal is now officially off the table.

The loss of an additional 460 jobs lies at the feet of the unions.

I am very disappointed that unions have refused our sensible offer to save up to 300 of the 1,000 job cuts that Labor and the Greens left embedded in the Budget.

Over the past decade public sector wages have grown by more than double the rate of inflation. Given this, in our view, slowing the pace of public sector wages growth was far preferable to additional job reductions in order to help fix the Budget mess.

It seems that the view of the public sector unions is that the Government should continue a pattern of living beyond its means. Ignoring the problem will mean harsher cuts will be required in the future.

The Liberal Government was elected to fix the Budget mess, and we will not be deterred.

The pay freeze was first announced on July 9th – that’s 127 days ago. Unions claim that 127 days is not enough time to decide whether to support a pay freeze, yet it took them just 24 hours to agree to a strike.

Since the pay freeze proposal was announced unions have been playing politics with their members’ jobs; I urge them now not to play politics with our children’s education, or our health system.

Mr Lynch’s latest stunt of having the unions vote on a proposal which we have already rejected because it will leave around a $70 million hole in the Budget again highlights that the unions are more interested in saving face than saving jobs.

It was the union leaders’ decision to reject the pay freeze and they must accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
Peter Gutwein, Treasurer