LOCAL nurses and police won't see a pay rise this year, but Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson has defended the wage freeze amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frontline workers have hit out at the state government after it announced on Wednesday the sectors would have their wages locked in for the remainder of the year, due to the economic stress of the coronavirus crisis.
"It's a tough decision to make, there's no doubt about it," Mr Anderson told the Leader.
"These decisions are not made lightly, but we are in an environment where everybody is feeling the pain across the board and we need to come together as one.
"If we were in a completely different environment we wouldn't be doing what we are doing now and we sincerely thank everyone for their hard work.
"Pausing pay rises will enable the government to focus on the stimulation of job creation, which will put NSW in a much stronger position going forward."
NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association general secretary Brett Holmes slammed the decision, and said the wage freeze would have a major impact on regional areas like Tamworth.
"The Premier and Treasurer are ignoring how a public sector wage freeze will impact rural and regional NSW," Mr Holmes said.
"These communities rely on nurses and midwives to spend their wages in local businesses.
"After suffering through drought, bushfires and now COVID-19, it beggars belief the government wants to make it even harder for these communities to recover."
Public service workers make up more than 10 per cent of the region's employment and NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay said her party would fight for those more than 11,000 workers.
"Our public servants have been heroes during the pandemic. They deserve a medal, not a pay cut," Ms McKay said.
"Public servants in New England are critical to the local economy. Cutting their wages will hurt local businesses and local families."