Today host Allison Langdon accused the NSW government of ignoring the sacrifice made by brave frontline workers as it tries to bring in a pay freeze.
The controversial decision to award huge pay rises to bureaucrats while slashing the salaries of ordinary public sector workers prompted a fierce TV debate on Wednesday.
New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian tried to defend the government's plans, with Ms Langdon calling it a 'bad look'.
The state government is hoping to save millions in a series of budget cuts, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the economy.
This includes a pay freeze for all public sector workers, including firefighters who tackled the fatal bushfires, as well as nurses and doctors battling COVID-19.
Allison Langdon (pictured) accused the NSW government of treating public sector workers unfairly
But bureaucrats in the state government will still get their planned pay rises, with police commissioner Mick Fuller bagging a pay rise of nearly $90,000.
The 12.5 per cent pay rise takes his salary to a whopping $649,500, with the decision made before the pandemic.
Speaking about the controversial scheme on Today on Wednesday, Ms Langdon accused Ms Berejiklian of treating hardworking staff unfairly.
'It's not a very good morning. You did lose in the Upper House,' she told the premier.
'You can't be surprised, though?'
Ms Berejiklian replied, saying that the state government was enduring an unprecedented time, and had to save any money it could to support workers on programs such as JobKeeper.
'We don't do it because we want to do it. We do it because we have to,' she said.
People are seen queuing outside a Centrelink office on the Gold Coast on March 23 (pictured) with the coronavirus crisis creating economic upheavel
Ms Berejiklian (pictured) defended her government's plan, saying it was necessary to help the economy and protect more jobs
'When you govern, you have to govern for all citizens and 90 per cent of the work force in NSW don't work for the public service.
'We know it is a big ask. A lot of people are saying to us, 'We're OK not to have a pay rise for 12 months if it means someone else being supported during these difficult times'.'
The state government's wage freeze will see more than 400,000 public sector employees forced to give up their 2.5 per cent annual pay rise for 12 months.
But Ms Langdon accused her of putting state bureaucrats first, ensuring they get pay rises while other workers suffer.
'We have called our frontline workers heroes, thanked them for the work they've done through bushfires and COVID-19,' the presenter said.
'On the other hand, you have your top bureaucrats have received massive pay rises, up to 12.5 per cent.
'The police commissioner, nearly $90,000. That is more than what some of the frontline workers earn in a year. It's a bad look.'
People are seen queuing outside a Centrelink office in Melbourne on March 24 (pictured) as the coronavirus crisis left thousands unemployed
The premier insisted the pay rises had been agreed to long before the crisis began.
'But, Ally, can I make this point very clearly: All of those things you referred to were decisions taken last year,' Ms Berejiklian said.
'It doesn't matter, premier,' Ms Langdon quipped. 'It is all about optics here.'
But the premier furiously replied: 'Actually, it's all about the hundreds of thousands of people that have lost their jobs in NSW.
'They'll be turning to government to support them, to help them get into jobs.'
Ms Berejiklian said that while she was 'grateful for every single one of our 410,000 public servants', not all people in the state worked in that sector.
'We have a huge problem in NSW where literally, in a very short period of time, so many people have lost their jobs,' she explained.
'So every spare dollar we can borrow or grab or save, we have to put in for supporting job for the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost jobs.
Teachers will be subject to the 12-month-long public sector pay freeze (pictured, a teacher helping children wash their hands at a newly opened school on May 26)
Nurses will be subject to the public sector pay freeze, despite being on the coronavirus frontline (pictured, a health worker testing a woman for COVID-19 in Sydney on May 12)
She explained that the pay freeze, which has been blocked by the NSW Upper House and will now be taken to the Industrial Relations Commission, was aimed at 'providing certainty' for workers.
'In a month, we have seen what can happen and are worried what will happen when JobKeeper finishes,' Ms Berejiklian said.
'We have to plan for that and come to terms with the economic consequences, as well as the health consequences of the virus.
'I am not here to make easy decisions, we're here to do what's right for the community.
'It would be easy to take the easy route but hundreds of thousands of families will continue to suffer and many more will lose their jobs.
Firefighters (pictured tackling the Gospers Mountain bushfire on December 21) will also see their annual pay rise scraped
'We want people to have a sense of security in the state. That's why we have taken the decision we have.'
In the Upper House on Tuesday night, 22 MPs from Labor, the Greens and crossbench voted against the regulation to freeze wages.
The NSW Government will now take the issue to the Industrial Relations Commission.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House, Adam Searle, said: 'This is an act of economic vandalism which will cost jobs, not create jobs.
'No matter which way you spin this, this is a cut in the purchasing power of those more than 400,000 workers who live in every suburb, town and village across NSW.'
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MLC Robert Borsak added: 'There is no proof that pausing the wages of about 410,000 public servants will increase employment.'
Despite protests by nurses, midwives and other workers, the government plans to go ahead with the freeeze.
State Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said: 'At a time when there are hundreds of thousands of people out of work, the creation of new jobs must be our top priority, not giving those with job security a pay rise.
'We're in the grip of a once-in-100-year crisis and it is simply not appropriate to pretend this is a year like any other.'
The NSW government is undertaking heavy budget cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The crisis could see between $10-20 billion slashed from the state's revenue, with the treasurer warning 'the hit to the economy is real'.
Officials previously predicted that the government would have a $1.9 billion surplus over the next four years.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen thousands lose their jobs, with city centres and shopping malls empty of customers (pictured, an empty Melbourne street on May 28)