Move to reverse ‘offensive’ pay rise for Police Commissioner
Exclusive: The NSW Greens will move to block the "offensive and excessive" $87,000 pay rise given to the NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, in state parliament today.
The Greens believe they have the numbers in the Upper House to support a motion to reverse the pay rise using the Parliament's oversight role under the Statutory and Other Officers Act 1975, Section 19A.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesman, David Shoebridge, said the pay rise is unthinkable, given the pandemic and the circumstances in which many people have lost their jobs and faced pay cuts.
The pay rise, which pushed Commissioner Fuller's salary to $649,500, makes him one of the highest paid public servants in the country and the world.
Mr Shoebridge said: "in the middle of a pandemic when hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs and many more facing pay cuts, it's was offensive to see the Police Commissioner getting an $87,000 pay rise."
"The Premier should have never offered this, and the Commissioner should have never accepted it. Both of them have shown a lack of true leadership here.
"Commissioner Fuller's pay rise is more money than most of his police constables get paid in a year. How can he look them in the eye after this?
"The good news is that we can correct this error in the Upper House and reverse this excessive pay rise.
Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House, Labor's Adam Searle, said the pay rise is also the full annual salary of a nurse.
"If the government thinks it is appropriate to cut (freeze) the wages of our hard working front line public services providers, like police, nurse and teachers are working so hard to deliver to the community, how can they justify such an outsized pay rise. "
"If there is a motion for reversal of the pay rise put up in the parliament, we would vote for it," said Mr Searle.
Shooters and Fishers Upper House MP Robert Borsak said they would also support the motion from the Greens to block the pay rise.
The pay rise comes on the back of NSW Government flagging a freeze on the annual 2.5 per cent pay rise public servants in NSW receive, and NSW Treasurer Dom Perrottet's comments last month that politicians should not get a pay rise during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"You'd want to socially distance yourself from any politician that thinks they deserve a pay rise in this environment," Mr Perrottet told Sky News.
The pay rise was the result of a directive from Ms Berejiklian on March 26, amid the blame game between State and Federal Governments over who was responsible for allowing passengers from the Ruby Princess Cruise Ship to disembark without being screened for COVID-19, and just days before Mr Fuller announced police would launch a criminal investigation into the incident.
Mr Fuller's exact previous salary is not known, but it ranged from $487,501 to $562,650.
In an usually short time frame of four days, the NSW Remuneration Tribunal agreed to set Mr Fuller's new pay packet at $649,500 per year backdated to January 1.
The tribunal, which rules on pay increases for senior government executives, said Mr Fuller's current role as State Emergency Operations Controller in which he guides the state's coronavirus response from a Homebush headquarters was one of the justifications for giving him the rise.
"The Commissioner of Police is one of NSW's most senior office holders and it is appropriate that the role receive a level of remuneration which reflects the role and responsibilities. Given the current national health and economic crisis it is more important than ever that the services of Mr Fuller be recognised," the ruling said.
"Having regard to the particular circumstances of the case the Tribunal is of the view that the remuneration package for Mr Fuller in the office of Commissioner of Police will be $649,500 per annum."
It said the tribunal's decision was "consistent with advice contained in the Premier's direction" and was "appropriate given the complexity, responsibility and challenges of the office".
Police Minister David Elliott backed Mr Fuller's pay rise.
"Commissioner Fuller does an outstanding job, serving the state tirelessly for more than 30 years … including the Black Summer bushfires and the current COVID-19 crisis," the minister said.
Mr Fuller, who joined the Police in 1987, became commissioner in early 2017 putting him in charge of a $3.6 billion police force with around 20,000 officers and unsworn staff.
The NSW Premier and the Police Commissioner have been contacted for comment.
Originally published as Moves to reverse 'offensive' pay rise for Police Commissioner