Public servants pocket pay rises as thousands sacked
THOUSANDS of Palaszczuk Government energy workers will pocket pay rises of three per cent as private sector employees across Queensland are being stood down and sacked.
Energy Queensland, the umbrella body that oversees State-owned power distributors Energex and Ergon Energy, has announced to its workforce that it has reached a wage deal agreement with unions.
Workers will receive three per cent annual wage increases for the next three years under the deal as well as additional employment security provisions and clarification of living-away-from-home meal allowance entitlements.
The cost of the wage hike will flow through to higher household and business power bills and comes as Energy Minister Anthony Lynham has lauded the Government's efforts lowering electricity prices.
The deal is higher than the Government's 2.5 per cent wage policy which was heavily criticised before the coronavirus pandemic for being well above inflation.
In a communique, Energy Queensland said the agreement was a "significant milestone and demonstrated a collaborative effort to "drive significant efficiencies within the business whilst providing certainty in employment terms and conditions for employees".
"At the same time these outcomes ensure Energy Queensland can continue to offer opportunities for our people and continue to deliver services that energises Queensland communities," it said.
The pay hike comes as Treasurer Jackie Trad confirmed the Government would need to recall State Parliament to get approval to fund its multi-billion dollar economic rescue package.
The Budget Bill passed by Parliament last year includes a standard cautionary provision that gives the Treasurer authority to spend $27 billion into the following financial year, about six months worth of expenses.
However, with a new budget unlikely this year, the Government wants authority to spend more rather than re-prioritise from that existing allocation which would require deep cuts across departments.
Ms Trad said governments across Australia were doing the same to fund their stimulus spending.
"With the widespread deferral of 2020-21 budget dates, jurisdictions across the country are working to secure parliamentary approval of their funding," she said.
"Consistent with the approaches being taken in other states and the Commonwealth, it is our intention to present an Appropriation Bill to the Parliament which will ensure the Government's $4bn health and economic support package, which includes elements such as the payroll tax rebate to all Queensland businesses affected by COVID-19 shut downs."
The Government has effectively scrapped collecting payroll tax for the first half of 2020 in a move that was welcomed by the Opposition and business.
"In just one week since we announced our package, which included payroll tax refunds, more than 4350 businesses have been already received payroll tax refunds worth more than $173 million," she said.