NSW treasurer’s policy adviser cost icare $700,000

By Shannon Jenkins

September 29, 2020

Adobe

Government insurance agency icare spent more than $700,000 for American policy adviser Edward Yap to be hired and seconded to the New South Wales treasurer’s office, documents have shown.

The revelations come as icare has announced it is on the hunt for a new chief executive officer and managing director following a string of senior resignations.

A former staffer of several US Republican congressmen, Yap had not undertaken any work for icare until August 2020, but resigned less than two weeks after moving from Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s office to the agency.

On Tuesday The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that between August 2017 and his recent resignation, three contracts for Yap’s employment cost icare more than $700,000 with GST.

Some of the money went to labour hire firm Robert Walters, which had employed Yap to work in Perrottet’s office.

icare agreed to pay for a two-year sponsored 482 visa for Yap, as well as his wife’s visa application. The agency also agreed to pay for half of Yap’s application costs after he decided to apply for permanent residency.

In order to meet the 482 visa conditions — which allow employers to bring in “skilled workers where employers can’t source an appropriately skilled Australian worker” — Robert Walters wrote to icare with a plan to advertise Yap’s job, despite having no intention of giving the role to anyone else.


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


Last month Perrottet said 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. He said Yap left the contractor role in July 2017 “with the intention of taking up a contract as a strategy manager with icare”, after which it was decided that Yap would be seconded to his office from icare.

The treasurer noted that his former chief of staff, Nigel Freitas, advised him that arrangements relating to Yap “were not fully documented” due to an “administrative oversight”. Freitas “subsequently directed the termination of the secondment arrangements” and resigned.

icare board members John Nagle and Mark Lennon have also resigned, while former chair Michael Carapiet and deputy chair Gavin Bell have announced their departures.

Earlier this month an upper house committee inquiry heard Treasury officials could not identify who actually approved Yap’s secondment, and that it was “effectively” unlawful and a breach of regulations.

icare has since said the staff responsible for seconding Yap have not worked at the agency for years.

On Monday icare’s new chair, John Robertson, said finding a new CEO to replace Nagle was one of his top priorities, with a CEO and managing director expected to be appointed before the end of the year.

“The treasurer has given me a clear mandate as incoming chair of icare to ensure key actions are met to help manage this leadership transition as smoothly as possible for all stakeholders and to ensure icare is delivering on its commitment to support injured workers,” he said.

“Ensuring we have the right leader at the helm of the organisation at this critical time is essential to driving forward the necessary improvements.”


Read more: Ex icare head’s wife paid $800,000 under contract awarded without tender, inquiry hears


 

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