Richard Harding, the new boss at NSW’s scandal-plagued state insurer icare, doesn’t start until next Monday but is already at the centre of a remuneration controversy, as unions pan a $120,000 pay bump for the new CEO and managing director.
Unveiling Harding’s appointment yesterday, icare said he will receive more than $820,000 a year in remuneration, 14.8% more than his predecessor John Nagle, recipient of a comparatively measly $700,000 annual pay check prior to his resignation last year.
Unions NSW has branded the pay deal an ‘insult’ to more than 400,000 public servants across the state, most of whom had their wages frozen this year in a $4 billion cost savings effort.
The secretary of Unions NSW, Mark Morey, said the pay deal exposes a double standard in the government’s attitude towards ‘fat cat’ public servants and the majority of public sector workers.
“It’s just another kick in the guts to our hardworking public sector workers who found out just before Christmas that they weren’t considered worthy of a pay rise despite keeping us safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Morey said in a statement.
“It beggars belief that they missed out on a pay rise, but the incoming CEO of this highly dysfunctional insurer will take home a staggering $120,00 extra each year.”
Last year the Berejiklian government clashed with public servants over a $3 billion pay freeze for hundreds of thousands of government workers across the state.
A nine year steak of 2.6% average annual wage increases was scuppered in the freeze, which Perrotett argued was a necessary frugality amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, it emerged late last year that icare executives received almost $4 million in salaries and bonuses in the 2018-19 financial year.
Harding, who has spent the last twelve years as chief executive at New Zealand insurer Tower, has been brought on to draw a line through a turbulent period for the NSW insurer, after media investigations revealed a history of dodgy behaviour at the organiastion.
icare chair John Robertson said Harding had an ‘impeccable record’ and was the right person to lead the organisation through its challenges.
“He joins us next week to lead the organisation in rebuilding trust and driving forward improvements to ensure we are delivering on our core commitment in supporting our customers, including injured workers,” Robertson said in a statement.
Hardin’s remuneration was set by the board ‘having consideration for an independent benchmarking report’, icare said.