Conservative crossbenchers have joined Labor and the Greens to defeat the Berejiklian government’s wages policy in the upper house.

The government has maintained the freeze would save $3 billion which it would invest in job creation and infrastructure. NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the government had to consider the best interests of the eight million people living across the state.
“Its a sad day when Labor and the crossbench show as little regard as they have today for the thousands lining up outside Centrelink and approaching charities for food hampers, because they can no longer afford to put food on the table,” Mr Perrottet said.
“This has been the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and our focus has to be on kick-starting our recovery with more jobs, jobs, jobs.
“This hasnt been an easy decision but it is fair and its the right decision right now.”
Mr Perrottet said the policy was focused on creating new jobs but Premier Gladys Berejiklian has indicated that job losses could be in the pipeline if public servants are given a pay rise.
Mr Perrottet offered a peace deal to union leaders on Sunday night, proposing a one-off $1000 payment and no forced redundancies to non-executive frontline workers.
This would have included nurses, police, paramedics, teachers and train crews who face losing a salary increase of up to 2.5 per cent this year.
But the sweetener did not win the support of key union leaders or Labor and crossbenchers, who pursued the disallowance motion in the upper house on Tuesday.
The government’s leader in the upper house Damien Tudehope said stopping the wage freeze would “rip billions of dollars from families and households who have been left with nothing”.
“We oppose this motion, because all it does is give more money to those with the security of a guaranteed job and a steady pay-check, while half a million go with nothing,” Mr Tudehope said.
“This motion is a kick in the guts and a slap in the face to the almost half a million people who have lost their livelihoods because of COVID-19.”
One Nation’s leader Mark Latham said the frontline health workers had gone from “heroes to zero” through the government’s policy to deny them a payrise.
Nurses and midwives protested outside NSW Parliament on Tuesday ahead of the vote.
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay said the Coalition wanted to slash the pay of frontline workers who had protected the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Every single Liberal and National Party member of parliament who supported wage cuts for workers owes their community an explanation,” Ms McKay said.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said the government’s wages policy would make public sector workers feel “economically insecure”.
“If you think you can stand your voodoo economics up in the IRC, then take it down there and let the independent arbiter decide,” Mr Shoebridge told parliament.
Unions NSW secretary, Mark Morey, thanked the Opposition and crossbenchers for their support.
“Today the upper house has helped prevent the NSW government turning a recession into a depression. For that we thank them,” Mr Morey said.
The NSW government always looks to its own workforce for savings. But today as we confront the worst economic crisis in a generation, economic sanity has prevailed.”
Alexandra Smith is the State Political Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.