This week the Shadow Defence team welcomed the Prime Minister’s back down on his decision to cut the pay of Australian Defence Force personnel.
Labor, the RSL, Defence Force Welfare Association, and other ex-Service organisations have pressured the Prime Minister over his unfair ADF pay offer for months.
However, it is a decision that has only been made to shore up the Prime Minister’s leadership.
As recently as 1 December 2014, the Prime Minister said he was “determined to stick with the 1.5 per cent pay arrangements.”
The Prime Minister’s disgraceful decision to cut the pay of ADF personnel is a fight we should not had to have.
It showed disrespect towards our servicemen and women and their families and didn’t recognise the unique nature of military service.
It’s now time for the Abbott Government to show its respect to Defence Department staff and reconsider its harsh attack on their wages and conditions.
Defence Secretary Dennis Richardson has stressed the important relationship between Defence staff and ADF personnel.
“There is a bit of a tendency for some to see Defence civilians as constituting something called a ‘back-end’ supporting the ADF ‘front-end’…We have an integrated work force where many civilians report to uniformed personnel and many of the latter report to the former.”
Defence Secretary Dennis Richardson, Speech to ASPI Dinner, 12 November 2013
"The greater the differential you have, between base salaries in the ADF and base salaries in the defence APS, the greater are the difficulties we are going to run into in terms of an integrated workforce,"
Defence Secretary Dennis Richardson, The Canberra Times, 6 March 2015
Defence staff have been offered a below-inflation pay increase of 3.16 per cent over the next three years, averaging to just 1.05 per cent annually.
Defence staff will not only see their real wages fall under this insulting offer, they will also lose a range of conditions.
The Prime Minister is undermining the important work that Defence staff do by cutting their real wages, while at the same time increasing the pay offer to ADF personnel.
It’s time for him to back down fully – on the cuts to Defence staff wages and conditions, and public servants more broadly.