MONDAY, 27 MARCH 2023
SUBJECT/S: NSW State Election
DAVID KOCH, HOST: Joining me now, the President of the New South Wales Labor Party and Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland. Michelle, good morning to you. Pretty happy weekend for Labor. What was the secret behind Chris Minns’ victory?
MICHELLE ROWLAND, NSW LABOR PRESIDENT AND MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: David, I think it was a focus on listening to people and responding to some basic needs. It's about delivering the services and infrastructure that people expect. And I think this is particularly so in those outer metropolitan growth areas of our cities. People who have moved into these areas – and many of them are your viewers right now – would expect that when they move into these new suburbs, they'll have a certain level of services, including schools that are adequate, hospitals that are adequate. That simply hadn't happened under 12 years in many of these areas. I think that responsiveness really went a long way to people making the decision they did.
KOCH: Now unions must be rubbing their hands in glee, with Labor Government right the way through the country. Will that lead to big wage rises?
ROWLAND: Well, let's be clear: Chris Minns went into this election with a promise to lift the wages cap in New South Wales because essential workers have been thanked for everything they do, everyone from teachers to nurses, but they haven't been properly recompensed – and that is his commitment.
KOCH: Okay, what can everyone expect? How much?
ROWLAND: I think we'll leave that to Chris Minns as he implements this policy. But we do know that these people are deserving of a wage rise.
KOCH: Okay. Can the state afford it? Can the country afford big wage breakouts?
ROWLAND: I think when we're talking here, we're talking about actually remunerating people for what they are worth, and people made a very clear decision on Saturday to support that policy.
KOCH: Okay, so Labor is traditionally seen as being pro-union, anti-business. What do you say to small business owners out there doing it tough with rising interest rates, rising inflation, rising energy prices, and now a wages breakout as well? How are they going to survive?
ROWLAND: It's interesting you say that because the number of people who approached me on booths throughout pre-poll and on polling day, who said they were running small businesses and they felt that the Liberal Government had abandoned them, was actually quite large. We have a number of people coming into portfolios and into the Government as first term MPs who do have small business backgrounds. And I know that Premier-elect Mins is very mindful of that. He understands the importance of partnering with businesses, with the community and with government. And I think that he will be a very effective Premier by achieving that balance.
KOCH: So, business has nothing to fear from a Labor Government and a red wash right through the country?
ROWLAND: I would say business should look forward to working with a very productive Minns Government that is keen to deliver for the people of New South Wales.
KOCH: Okay, so we've had warnings from the Reserve Bank as well, saying to bring inflation down, we can't have a wages blowout. How do you balance that out? To give people wage increases to fight high inflation without feeding it?
ROWLAND: Well, these are people who, at the moment, in a word, are underpaid. These are people who deserve better. These are people we need more of: we need more teachers, we need more people in our essential services sectors, including nurses – in all these services. And the way we do that is by giving them proper terms and conditions.
KOCH: Michelle Rowland, appreciate your time. Thank you.