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Gillard pledges $1bn to fund wage rise for low earners
16/07/2012 - Prime Minister Julia Gillard has pledged another billion dollars to fund a pay rise for low-paid workers and has called on the states to stump up too. Adam Gartrell
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Gillard used her speech to the NSW Labor conference in Sydney on Sunday to announce the extra money to help fund wage increases for workers in the social and community sector.
The boost takes the federal contribution to about $3 billion over the phase-in period that runs to 2021.
"We're not waiting for the Liberal states before we fund our share — because, frankly, we might be waiting a while," Gillard told the conference.
Nonetheless she called on the states to "do the right thing" and announce significant funding commitments of their own.
From December, about 150,000 workers in the sector will start benefiting from pay rises of between 23 and 45 per cent, as a result of a Fair Work Australia (FWA) decision in February.
The vast majority of these workers — numbering about 120,000 — are women.
"These employees make a real difference to lives of some of our most vulnerable community members and they deserve to be properly rewarded for their efforts," Gillard said.
The Australian Services Union (ASU) said the onus was now on NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and other state leaders to act.
"The O'Farrell government is yet to put a single cent on the table," ASU secretary Sally McManus said.
"The time for excuses is now over — either he proves he does believe in equal pay and stumps up the cash, or he's going to force cuts in services."
O'Farrell said his government was committed to the pay rise.
"Finally the prime minister has made a commitment around a dollar figure. That means the states can now go away and do our sums," he told reporters on Sunday.
But he declined to say whether the government would put a cap on wage increases.
Federal shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said the coalition supported the pay increases but the government had to explain how it would pay for its latest commitment.
But a spokesperson for Gillard said the money was included in May's 2012-13 budget as an unannounced measure.
Greens leader Christine Milne said Gillard's announcement would deliver more fairness for low-paid workers.
"All Australians I think will be very pleased to see that the prime minister chose to rise above the brawling blokes in NSW," Senator Milne said, referring to the fight over Greens preferences that has dominated the conference.
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alan | 16/07/2012 10:55 1
Thanks for that Juliar The $1,000,000,000 is not your money it's ours the taxpayers Can not wait for the next election as we wave you good by Stop spending our money
alf arnold Be Mba | 16/07/2012 15:49 2
Here we go again again, more taxing waste of funds, give it away ,easy come easy go. Julier put the money into building new industries that will create jobs and a future for our young,Fund new businesses or at least guarantee the banks to do it. rebuild our Industries not blow it on further giveaways for no return. Think of Australia not the next election.
Goldie | 16/07/2012 20:19 3
Never ending pay rises chasing never ending price rises is it any wonder we are uncompetitive as a country. More Gillard mine laying for the change of government next year.
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