Jenny Leong speaks on increasing paramedics pay

By leave: I thank the House. I was in the Chamber to offer my support to the member for Sydney and to the incredible paramedics in the gallery today, and to simply watch this debate. But after hearing the hypocrisy of the former Treasurer—who held the purse strings in the Liberal‑Nationals Government for 12 long years and failed to give any public sector worker in this State a proper pay rise—I could not remain silent. I had to put on record The Greens support for paramedics and the need for our healthcare workers in this State to be paid adequately. On behalf of The Greens, I acknowledge the member for Balmain and the member for Ballina, and offer our support to paramedics and their long-held demand for action on better pay and conditions.

We know that the New South Wales paramedics are the lowest paid paramedics in the country. Current pay and working conditions for paramedics are causing burnout so our paramedics are leaving New South Wales for other jurisdictions. But let us not pretend that this problem just started in March. It did not. There was a wage cap and a pandemic. At the time the Liberal-Nationals Government was under the reign of the former Treasurer, who is now the shadow health Minister and is pretending to care about the plight of paramedics. It is clear that the action of the former Government of imposing a wage cap got us into the current crisis.

It is clear that the New South Wales Minns Labor Government needs to step up. It is not enough to say, "We are going to get into government and we are going to deliver for the workers of this State." Delivering for the workers of this State means making sure they are paid adequately. For two years the Health Services Union has been calling for a 20 per cent pay rise on top of the 4 per cent offer to ensure that the pay of New South Wales paramedics does not fall any further than any other State in the country. It is critical that paramedics in this State are paid in line with Queensland.

We know that the Australian Paramedics Association is also demanding fair, real terms and pay increases. What we have heard is absolutely critical. We know that there is a massive departure of paramedics from New South Wales to other States, we know that the Premier is concerned about that, and we know the solution. The Greens do not believe that the Liberal-Nationals, now in Opposition, finally care about workers in this State. We offer our support to paramedics in this State. We urge the Premier and the health Minister to step up and offer the pay rise that they are demanding. The Greens stand in solidarity with paramedics and with workers across the State. We recognise the direct actions they are taking to demand that their wages and conditions are held to the highest standard. We also recognise the quality of service and care that they give to the people of New South Wales.

I thank everybody who signed the petition. I acknowledge the member for Sydney for bringing this debate before the House. It is clear from the debate today that paramedics in this State are supported by crossbench members in their push to be paid the wages that they deserve. We thank them for their expertise and service to our community, despite the failure of successive governments to deliver the wages they deserve. I end on this: The previous health Minister may think that we forget the attacks and cuts that were delivered to workers while he was Treasurer, but I remind him that every time he speaks in this Chamber I am happy to put on record that The Greens remember that the former Government delivered absolutely nothing for the people of this State.

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