Northern NSW paramedics paid significantly less than Qld counterparts rally in Tweed to demand wage increase

  • Published February 21, 2023

The Daily Telegraph, 21 February 2023

Tired and frustrated paramedics have rallied outside Tweed MP Geoff Provest’s office in an effort to secure better working conditions ahead of the state election next month.

Paramedics in the Tweed earn significantly less than their counterparts just over the border, as do colleagues across NSW.

Luke O’Hearn, paramedic and Health Services Union delegate, said the group gathered outside Mr Provest’s office on Friday to send a message to the current NSW government.

“Ignoring paramedics has to stop,” he said.

“We have entered with good faith to a task force with the premier and he has ignored the outcomes of that task force and he has ignored paramedics for long enough.

“We’re tired, we’re frustrated and we’re humiliated …”

Mr Provest said there was a lot of talk about lifting the wages cap.

“I’m in support of the ambulance drivers and ambulance officers … for not only their wages but also recognition in their professional development and to be rewarded,” he said.

“I think we need to critically look at those wages because those people are hurting and where we can, where can afford it, we’ve just got to do it in a fiscal sense to achieve that”.

Labor candidate for Tweed Craig Elliot said Mr Provest’s response was cheap politics and his party was in support of paramedic wage increases.

“It’s a bit rich for Geoff Provest to tell paramedics he supports them when he goes to Sydney and backs legislation that doesn’t support them,” he said.

“It’s a petition against his own 12 year old tired government

“It’s disingenuous and shameful”

“The NSW Government has been working in good faith with the HSU on a task force, and it will continue that work to modernise NSW Ambulance awards and conditions.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard told media: “The NSW Government has been working in good faith with the HSU on a task force, and it will continue that work to modernise NSW Ambulance awards and conditions.”

Health Services Union NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said the wide-reaching work performed by paramedics “hasn’t been reflected in the pay”.

“Paramedics are trained to also do far more than they are currently allowed to perform”.

“NSW paramedics are not paid what they are worth and will increasingly work to rule if their pay does not reflect their skills and productivity. But with a more constructive approach everyone can benefit,” he said.

“We will be making this argument loud and clear every moment and in every corner of the state, from now until the state election.”

Mr Hayes says some of the work paramedics are currently prevented from doing include:

• Administering a broad range of medicines.

• Preventative health work such as diabetes screening in disadvantaged communities.

• Treating aged care patients at home rather than transporting them to a hospital.

• Preliminary mental health interventions to reduce the 30,000 non or semi-urgent mental health presentations.

The Health Services Union promised five weeks campaigning from Friday.