NSW Treasury secretary to lead probe into Dominic Perrottet’s office over icare secondments

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday August 10, 2020

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The New South Wales Treasury secretary will conduct an audit into Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s office after it was revealed that details relating to two people working in the office on secondment from state insurance agency icare “were not fully documented”.

A spokesperson for Perrottet recently told The Daily Telegraph that the treasurer had asked his secretary, Michael Pratt, to look at office staffing arrangements “going back a number of years”, with the findings to be made public.

It follows the resignation of Perrottet’s chief of staff, Nigel Freitas.

On Wednesday night, Freitas had advised Perrottet that arrangements relating to policy adviser Edward Yap and an unnamed administrative assistant — who were working in Perrottet’s office on secondment from icare — “were not fully documented” due to an “administrative oversight”.

“My chief of staff subsequently directed the termination of the secondment arrangements with respect to the advisor and the administrative assistant on Thursday,” Perrottet said in a statement released on Friday afternoon.

“As per usual practice in ministerial offices, the handling of all staffing arrangements is formally delegated to the chief of staff, including employment contracts, hiring and firing.”


Read more: Further icare resignations announced after ceo grilled at inquiry


He said secondments from government agencies to ministerial offices were “explicitly permitted” under the Government Sector Employment Regulation 2014.

“The regulation specifically provides for the financial responsibilities relating to any secondment to be agreed by the parties. As such, the regulation permits the payment of remuneration by the secondee’s employing agency,” he added.

Yap was hired as a policy advisor in October 2015 for a six month term, and was reengaged under contract arrangements in the role of senior policy advisor, Perrottet said.

He had worked in the offices of a number of members of the US Congress before relocating to Australia to work for the treasurer. He left the contractor role in July 2017 “with the intention of taking up a contract as a strategy manager with icare”.

It was then decided that Yap would be seconded to Perrottet’s office from icare, where Perrottet said he was employed from August 2017.

Freitas advised the treasurer that “the correct documentation had not been provided” for those arrangements, and resigned on Thursday.

“At all times my understanding was that all staff arrangements in my office were in order, and I regret that they were not,” Perrottet said.

“I personally regret this has impacted my loyal team and am sorry it has distracted from the important work of the NSW government in tackling COVID-19.”

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Yap, Perrottet and Freitas travelled to New York, Washington and San Francisco in January 2018 to promote NSW infrastructure. The trip, which was taken while yap was on icare’s payroll, cost $50,421.

Perrottet last week appointed retired Supreme Court Judge Robert McDougall to lead a “root and branch” review into icare, after The Herald, The Age and Four Corners published a number of damning allegations regarding the agency and its workers’ compensation scheme, and icare board members John Nagle and Mark Lennon resigned.


Read more: Movers & shakers: ex judge to lead icare review


 

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