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07.04.22

Give health workers the pay-rise they deserve

There is no doubt that the Liberal Party in NSW is in disarray.

Certainly, the Prime Minister won a victory through the NSW Court of Appeal though how a constitutional matter within the party could be regarded as non-judiciable is difficult to fathom.

It is also instructive to note that the water gets muddier because the NSW Liberal Party State Executive Member, Matthew Camenzuli, who took the preselection battle to court, has been expelled.

Bit by bit the freedoms that we have taken for granted are being eroded, and by a Liberal Party.

Surely any person is entitled, in a democracy, to use the judicial process if such a process is available to him/her.

Matthew Camenzuli will now seek leave to appeal to the High Court to which he is entitled; that does not mean that the High Court will hear the appeal.

Counsel for Camenzuli argued before the NSW Court of Appeal that there was a difference between the “management” of the division and the “control” of the division.

Scott Robertson, arguing for Camenzuli, asserted that the appointment by the Federal Executive of the Liberal Party, of a triumvirate including Morrison and Perrottet, did not give the appointed committee the power to select candidates for an election.

The Court of Appeal said it was a “semantic” point and dismissed the appeal.

Camenzuli, not to be beaten, in spite of his expulsion, argued, “Right now your leaders are asking you to dig deep while they silence you. You are now denied even the few preselection plebiscites that were originally planned in NSW. This election did not sneak up on us. There is no excuse for why plebiscites could not have been run in line with the constitution. Now is not the time to retreat. If the court upholds the captain’s pick, it is just another step in the process. More than ever you must be ready to boldly defend your rights.”

If we were to be objective, who could argue with Camenzuli?

Yet how on Earth can any candidate campaign successfully in a handful of weeks, in electorates whose voting population is over 100,000 – put together a campaign committee, get out brochures and mobilise supporters.

It can’t be done.

You are inviting defeat.

This came to pass because Alex Hawke, in lockstep with the Prime Minister, refused to attend the Nomination Committee of the NSW Liberal Party.

Constitutionally, without the Prime Minister’s representative present, candidates could not have been endorsed.

Why the delay?

Well, people like Hawke and Zimmerman could well have lost their preselection.

Hawke is singularly lacking in any ability other than to mobilise factions, which means being on the phone at taxpayers’ expense and organising numbers.

Why the Prime Minister allows himself to be closely identified with Hawke is a mystery.

These delays were designed, not to protect women, as the Prime Minister argues, but rather to say, this far out from an election, we have no time for a plebiscite therefore, the candidates were handpicked.

This is a recipe for political failure and Liberal voters may well exercise the only sanction they have, and that is not to vote for the party.

That doesn’t mean they will vote Labor.

They could go into a booth and just put a line through the ballot paper.

Scott Morrison must take responsibility for this parlous state where genuine, hardworking, dedicated Liberal members have been trampled on.

Dominic Perrottet was an appointed member of the committee but, to his credit, has said that the whole thing is “less than ideal. I think the whole thing has been a bit of a debacle.”

Well, today, Dominic Perrottet has a chance to deliver some credibility to the Liberal Party.

Hospital workers have walked off the job, in major metropolitan hospitals, between 10am and 2pm; in regional hospitals, from 10am to 12pm, over pay rises and staffing levels.

I have recently spent seven weeks in hospital.

I witnessed first-hand the workloads that staff faced especially during Coronavirus when workers were made to absent themselves if they tested positive, adding a tremendous burden to those left in the workforce.

Staffing levels are inadequate but, what is worse, are the pay levels for these people, the lowest income workers in the public health system.

They are tired of politicians saying thank you.

They have families to feed.

Dominic Perrottet has been the dominant Liberal Party leader since he assumed the Premiership, and with some exceptions, he has articulated Liberal values.

He led the nation against lockdowns.

What Perrottet should say today is that he is not inviting public sector workers to queue up for more money; but, on behalf of voters in NSW, he should argue the truth, that not one voter would surely deny nurses and others, after all they have done in the past two years, a pay increase of three percent.

He should mandate the pay rise and backdate it to April 1.

I believe the voters would cheer such judgement.

Premier, over to you.