Labor backflips on CFMEU-style, taxpayer funded bonuses

Labor backflips on CFMEU-style, taxpayer funded bonuses

Posted on: 02 March 2023

Kyam Maher has been forced into an embarrassing backflip after telling Parliament the Malinauskas Labor Government is open to bonuses for public servants who simply arrive at work on time and wearing appropriate clothing.

Labor’s Industrial Relations Minister Kyam Maher last week confirmed he is open to the initiative after the John Setka-led CFMEU recently brokered a bizarre bonus with an Adelaide company which will see workers receive a $10 reward for each day they arrive on time and wearing the correct uniform.

When Kyam Maher was questioned in Parliament if he would “rule out incorporating a bonus for public servants who simply turn up to work appropriately dressed?” he responded saying “we will enter all negotiations with the public sector unions in good faith and not rule out a whole lot of things”.

Yesterday afternoon he was forced to backflip on his previous answer following questions from media about how the bonus system would work.

If a similar $10 bonus were to be awarded to each of South Australia’s 113,050 public servants*, taxpayers would be forced to fork out more than $1.1 million every working day – or more than $280 million a year.

Shadow Treasurer Matt Cowdrey questioned why Labor didn’t rule out the ridiculous concept straight away.

“While it’s absolutely reasonable to negotiate allowances in certain circumstances –taxpayer-funded bonuses for rocking up to work wearing the correct clothing doesn’t pass the pub test,” Mr Cowdrey said.

“Clearly, Peter Malinauskas and his Labor Ministers have been spending too much time with John Setka as their approaches to allowances are sounding scarily similar.

“I don’t believe it’s an over-the-top expectation that public servants arrive at work appropriately dressed and on time.

“Labor needs to stop taking their cues from the CFMEU, because spending more than $280 million of taxpayer dollars on a ‘turning up allowance’ shouldn’t ever have been on the table.”

Shadow Minister for Finance and Tax Reform Heidi Girolamo said Labor should be thinking twice before awarding unnecessary taxpayer funded bonuses.

“Public servants should be rewarded for hard work – not simply turning up appropriately dressed – so it’s a bit ludicrous to even consider spending millions in taxpayer dollars on bonuses to compensate them for doing so,” Ms Girolamo said.

“We know Peter Malinauskas is former union boss, but he needs to break away from the CFMEU’s influence and better prioritise the needs of South Australian taxpayers.

"Awarding bonuses for basic expectations such as dressing appropriately is a disservice to all other South Australians who go above and beyond in their duties every day.

“Labor really needs to get their priorities in order as South Australian taxpayers have an expectation that their hard-earned dollars will be spent wisely – not on frivolous bonuses for basic standards.”

*Data source: The Workforce Information Report, compiled by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment.