Former NSW Labor leader John Robertson has been appointed as chair of the state insurance agency icare.
The appointment has come less than two months after the media began airing a number of allegations against the agency, including that icare had underpaid 52,000 injured workers by up to $80 million in compensation.
Robertson will replace the current chair, Michael Carapiet, from September 25.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Wednesday said deputy chair Gavin Bell would also be retiring, which, combined with the recent resignation of board member Mark Lennon and the end of term for several other board members in February, “would ensure a major renewal”.
“This represents the biggest change for icare since it was created in 2015,” he said.
Former chief executive officer John Nagle also left the board last month, just hours after being grilled at the parliamentary inquiry into icare and its workers’ compensation scheme.
He had previously been sanctioned by the board and lost a short-term bonus after he failed to properly disclose the conflict of interest regarding his wife’s employment with the agency.
Robertson has previously led Unions NSW, and was most recently chief operating officer of FoodBank. He said he was looking forward to his new role.
“I have always been a huge advocate for helping those doing it tough and protecting people who are most at need in the community,” he said.
“Helping lead and reshape icare is an important role, it’s something I am passionate about, and am very honored to be entrusted with the task.”
The independent probe into icare — as part of the broader State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015 Review — would also be fast-tracked, the treasurer said. The review is being conducted by former judge Robert McDougall, with a report due in April.
Perrottet said Robertson would ensure full cooperation with McDougall, as part of a number of key priorities including:
- Leading the recruitment of a new CEO for the icare board,
- Improving return to work rates for the agency’s Nominal Insurer scheme,
- Providing monthly updates on the Pre-injury Average Weekly Earnings remediation program,
- Ensuring icare staff do not travel overseas unless approved by the board,
- Overseeing the independent cultural review of the organisation,
- Providing monthly updates on meetings with the State Insurance Regulatory Authority,
- Undertaking an immediate review of icare’s bonus and remuneration framework.
Perrottet noted that it has already been decided that there would be no bonuses for the year ending June 30, 2020. The parliamentary inquiry recently heard that eight icare executives had been paid $3.96 million in salaries and bonuses in the 2019 financial year, despite the agency losing millions of dollars at the time.