14 June 2019
The Gunner Labor’s Government failure to adequately answer basic questions about their considerations on budget repair shows they are either incompetent or untrustworthy….or both.
During the Estimates Committee hearings last night, the Opposition Leader asked a series of questions on the government’s so-called voluntary pay freeze for executive contracts.
"We’re not questioning the decision for budget repair per se, we just want to know if the government actually did its due diligence and worked out how to do this properly – and they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give us the details," Gary Higgins said.
Among the questions asked of the Minister for Public Employment:
- Who was consulted concerning the pay freeze before the policy was announced—for instance, unions, IR specialists or others with knowledge of employment contracts and conditions?
- What modelling, if any, has been done concerning the potential uptake of the ‘voluntary’ pay freeze?
- The Chief Minister has said in the media that, ‘Everyone will be taking the pay freeze’, full stop—what is your understanding of how that will be enforced?
- Will retaliatory action be taken against those who do not agree to the pay freeze? For instance, will executives that do not agree to the freeze be asked to resign or will they face non-renewal of their contracts?
- If a person is retaliated against for not accepting the pay freeze, will that subject the Northern Territory Government to potential legal or Fair Work consequences?
- Did OCPE seek any legal advice, either from SFNT or the Solicitor-General, regarding the possible legal ramifications of attempting to enforce a pay freeze on executive officers prior to that policy being announced?
- Has any legal advice been sought, either from SFNT or the Solicitor-General, since the announcement of that policy?
- What happens if executive contract staff don’t agree to vary their contract?
- Did that legal advice contain advice if people were not going to accept that contract? It seems to me that would be part of the advice you would seek. How do we vary the contract and what happens if people do not agree to that variation?
"The Minister’s answers lacked detail and in many instances he failed to address the issues," Mr Higgins said. "What is the government hiding? Will there be ramifications for those who refuse to sign up to a freeze? What guarantees are there the taxpayer won’t have to pay out millions fighting legal challenges?
"This arrogant Gunner Labor Government needs to respect Territorians and give some real answers instead of hiding behind its litany of spin and obfuscation."