THE official opening of Simon Ramsay’s Dana Street office was a noisy event yesterday.
The office-warming with Victorian Premier Denis Napthine was targeted by chanting paramedics and firefighters in a colourful public protest.
Wielding cardboard pigs and banners, more than 50 people gathered outside the Western Victoria MP’s new Ballarat base to demand a public apology for his statements in the media claiming an average paramedic earns $93,500 a year.
MICA paramedic Mat Sing said politicians were pigging out while Victoria’s ambulance employees were missing out.
“Simon Ramsay wrote a letter to the editor which appeared in The Courier on Saturday basically trying to discredit paramedics by talking lies about the conditions paramedics are on allegedly,” he said.
“We know there are advanced life support paramedics earning $27 an hour who have been in the job over 20 years.”
Despite fanning out all the way down to street to ensure both back and front entrances were covered, the protestors did not get to see Mr Ramsay, or Dr Napthine after he arrived in a car.
“We didn’t expect to see Napthine or Ramsay but we just wanted them to know we can’t be silenced,” Ballarat paramedic Adam Phillips said.
“We’d like an apology but we didn’t expect one.”
Mr Ramsay said he was pleased the protestors showed respect to the event by dispersing peacefully after invited guests arrived.
Standing by his letter, he said it was in response to a full page advertisement by Labor MP Sharon Knight, blaming the Napthine Government for not caring for the welfare and the health of paramedics.
“I felt obliged to write back and say we do care. I believe paramedics do deserve a fair pay,” Mr Ramsay said.
He said the paramedic union had identified Coalition MPs and their offices as rallying points for their enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations.
“My office has been identified today given the premier’s visit,” he said.
“I said in that letter to the editor and in consequent discussions I have through other communication channels, if they (paramedics) have an issue that they want to address through the local member of parliament I am more than happy to make myself available, and my office here in Ballarat, to listen to their concerns.”
But the paramedics yesterday didn’t want an apology behind closed doors and demanded a public one.
Senior MICA paramedic Brendan Walker said he earned $67,000 and received five weeks of annual leave, so he found it hard to understand Mr Ramsay’s figures which indicated his pay would go up to $160,000 in 2016.
Mr Ramsay said the information came from Ambulance Victoria.