Government entities paid executives millions during pandemic

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday November 6, 2020

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A total of 27 government executives received more than $100,000 in bonuses this year while Australian Public Service employees were subjected to a wage freeze, analysis has found.

The Sydney Morning Herald on Friday revealed that out of 142 commonwealth entities, 34 paid their executives bonuses a total of more than $12.8 million.

The publication looked at the entities’ 2019-20 annual reports, and found that 27 executives from eight organisations — NBN Co, Snowy Hydro, Future Fund, the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, WSA Co, the CSIRO, ASC, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation — were paid more than $100,000 on top of their fixed pay.

Meanwhile, the wages of APS employees were frozen from April to October this year to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19.

As The Guardian recently reported, NBN Co boss Stephen Rue was the highest paid public servant in Australia for 2019-20, earning more than $3.1 million. That included a whopping $1.17 million bonus.

Last year, Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate — who this week resigned amid an investigation into the organisation’s expenditure — held the top spot, earning $2.7 million in pay and bonuses.

Holgate came under fire earlier this year after it emerged she had requested that executive bonuses be paid, but the AusPost board ruled against it.


Read more: Bonuses not off the table for AusPost bosses


The revelations prompted the Community and Public Sector Union to accuse the AusPost board and Holgate of being more concerned with lining their pockets than their employees and delivering services.

“Our members have been working harder and longer to help the community in the pandemic, all while taking a pay freeze, and how are they rewarded? Not with a watch or a bonus I can tell you that,” deputy national president Brooke Muscat said last month.

“Whether it’s watches in 2018 or big fat bonuses in the middle of a pandemic, the Australia Post board and its management are out of touch. What world do these people live in where paying themselves bonuses and gifting watches is a reward for freezing workers’ pay and ignoring systemic issues within Australia Post?”

The Herald has found that NBN Co paid its seven senior executives a total of $2.9 million in bonuses in 2019-20, but will freeze the pay of its staff and executives in 2020-21. Closely following NBN Co was Snowy Hydro, which paid its senior staff nearly $2.8 million in bonuses — $934,485 of which went solely to chief executive Paul Broad.

 

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