President's Message

Taking stock ahead of Award 2020

Strategic member communication has been one of my priorities since being elected President of the PANSW just over 12 very busy months ago.

The PANSW has been communicating regularly with our members via digital channels and on social media platforms. At our Biennial Conference last year, we launched the PANSW Toolbox mobile App, which allows members to know their right & obligations in legal situations, access industrial information and Association support directly from your phone.

And, there is always more to be done. In late July, we launched the Award 2020 Survey, a wide ranging and comprehensive project the likes of which hasn’t occurred for over 10 years.

We wanted to know your priorities prior to the Crown Employees (Police Officers — 2017) Award expiring on 30 June 2020. These results will add to the direction from our Biennial Conference, in formulating our bargaining parameters for Award negotiations.

Approximately 2,100 members responded to our Award 2020 Survey, which is frankly rather disappointing. Nevertheless, I thank those 2100 members for their participation.

Whilst the final survey report has not been delivered at the time of writing, preliminary findings reveal what we already know: the 2.5% wages cap is deeply unpopular.

Prior to the March state election, we put our political leaders on notice that the 2.5% wages cap must go. After years of crying poor, the NSW Government is heralding surplus budgets, record low debt and a juggernaut of an economy. I indicated to politicians that there would be some different conversations in our next pay round.

We are not alone in seeking to scrap the cap. We have formed a coalition with the Fire Fighters Union (FBEU), Paramedics (HSU) and Corrective Services Officers (PSA) to collectively seek change.

A legislative amendment will be required to be gain exemption from the current NSW Wages Policy and access to the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW for work value claims.

All crime categories are stable or falling and have been for years, due to the hard work of Police around the state, but we don’t reap the benefits due to the wages cap. Give us the ability to argue a work value claim before the Industrial Relations Commission.

I urge members to get active and get behind your Association as the campaign gains momentum.

PUTTING MEMBERS’ INTERESTS FIRST—REALLY?

Members sometimes ask, “What does the Association do for me?”

While Award negotiations, legal assistance, welfare support, and fighting for members’ industrial conditions form the bulk of what we do, we are constantly putting out fires that if left unchecked could significantly impact on members’ lives.

A recent example is the Treasury Amendment (Putting Members’ Interests First) Bill 2019, which would have prevented superannuation funds from providing default insurance to members under 25 and for members with account balances below $6,000.

If passed, this bill would have put at risk critical insurance coverage for us police officers who face a higher risk of injury, illness and death.

We all have insurance within our superannuation fund and the Police Blue Ribbon Insurance (PBRI) scheme means that if the worst happens, or if a member suffers a permanent injury and is unable to work, they and their families have significant insurance coverage and peace of mind that if something goes wrong their families will have some financial security.

It works because group insurance covers all members and spreads the risk, making insurance coverage affordable. Currently, NSW police officers cannot opt-out of the Police Blue Ribbon Insurance arrangements. It is compulsory and the cost of the premiums is shared by the NSWPF and all individual members.

Some members hold a First State Super account for the sole purpose of PBRI cover, which would have placed them under the $6,000 threshold.

All in all, the proposed Bill potentially strips hard-won insurance from all of our members. The PANSW has been actively working and lobbying to have Police exempted from this bill.

We have been in dialogue with various federal politicians including Senator Jackie Lambie, Barnaby Joyce MP, Chris Hayes MP, Matt Thistlewaite MP, Deputy Speaker Kevin Hogan, Senator Pauline Hanson, Scott Buchholz MP, Mark Coulton MP, Senator Jane Hume and retired police officers Llew O’Brien MP, Jason Wood MP and Pat Conaghan MP seeking their support in having the bill amended to exempt police. We were also able to personally address advisors to Minister Peter Dutton MP and Deputy Prime Minister Michael MCormack MP.

At the time of writing, the Federal Government has again pulled the Bill from the legislative agenda and the immediate danger has passed. However, the battle is far from over and we continue to advocate on behalf of our members to preserve this vitally important insurance benefit.

LEST WE FORGET
On 14 September, when the NSW contingent sets out on the Wall to Wall: Ride for Remembrance, the baton they convey will especially remember Constable Timothy Proctor who died on 3 February 2019, from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident on 31 January 2019.

This year marks 10 years since the Wall to Wall ride began. It is also the beginning of Police Week, which includes the PFA Bravery Award.

Services will be held around the country on Friday 27 September to mark National Police Remembrance Day. This day is set aside to remember NSW police officers who have died on duty, perhaps say a prayer for them and their families, and reflect on the many sacrifices that this job involves.

 

Tony King

President