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Executive remuneration leaps ahead in NSW public service

While most of the NSW public service is subject to a 2.5% pay rise cap, the incoming heads of Treasury and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority will take home significantly more than their predecessors — but still far from typical offers at private sector organisations of equivalent size.

The new chiefs of the New South Wales Treasury and Barangaroo Delivery Authority will be given significant pay rises to shrink the gap with private sector salaries, while other public servants continue to be subject to a 2.5% cap, according to the 2015 annual remuneration determination by the NSW Remuneration Tribunal.

Craig van der Laan (pictured above), who was confirmed last week as the new CEO of the BDA after acting in the role since August last year, will receive a base rate of $565,000 per annum, with a discretionary additional amount of up to 12%, meaning he could take home up to $632,800. This is an increase of 39% on what former CEO John Tabart was paid.

The increase puts van der Laan in the highest paid tier of public sector executives in NSW, even as a Band 3. However, the salary is still far short of what would be offered in the private sector for a project of equivalent size. Barangaroo is Sydney’s largest redevelopment project this century, which the authority values at over $6 billion, involving the redevelopment of 22 hectares.

In a joint statement with BDA chair Terry Moran last week confirming his appointment, van der Laan described the project as an amazing urban transformation:

“Barangaroo is about to enter an exciting new phase with the opening of the first public areas in Barangaroo South today and the upcoming opening of the headland park at Barangaroo Point — an extraordinary foreshore area which will become accessible to the public for the first time in more than 100 years.”

Rob Whitfield
Rob Whitfield

Rob Whitfield, who recently forsook a $4.7 million annual package at Westpac to join NSW Treasury, will see his salary rise from a maximum of $488,100 to up to $616,000 a year. This is a 24% increase on the maximum pay allowable for outgoing secretary Phil Gaetjens, who announced he would leave following a post-election machinery of government shake-up.

The pay rises, effective from June 1, follow directions given by Premier Mike Baird to make special determinations on remunerations for the heads of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and Treasury. According to the Barangaroo determination document, the premier advised that:

” … remuneration in excess of the maximum of Band 3 is necessary to attract and retain a candidate with strategic leadership expertise and significant industry experience to deliver the government’s vision for the Barangaroo precinct.

“The need for additional remuneration is supported by market based evidence which endorses the view that, given the nature of the role and the required expertise and background, suitable incumbents would most likely be operating in the private sector. Further, that remuneration within the existing Band 3 range may result in difficulty attracting or retaining a candidate who is both qualified and has demonstrated performance in a similar role.”

The tribunal has also in the last year upped the standard-offer salaries of two individual mandarins who joined the NSW senior executive service in the last year.

Blair Comley, secretary of NSW’s Department of Premier and Cabinet, was upon taking up the role in October last year offered a new base salary of $584,200 per annum, plus a discretionary remuneration range of up to 12%, bringing the potential take home up to $654,300 — still some $50,000 shy of his $700,000 salary at the federal Department of Climate Change.

Denise Dawson, the Band 2 chief financial officer of the Department of Family and Community Services, now receives an increase from a maximum of $305,400 to $340,000 per annum. The determination is personal to her, and will not apply to future holders of the position. Dawson started at Family and Community Services in April, following two and a half years at CFO of Queensland Urban Utilities.

All other senior executive service office-holders received a 2.5% pay increase on July 1, in accordance with legislation stating that any increase beyond 2.5% “can only be awarded if sufficient employee-related cost savings have been achieved to fully offset the increased employee-related costs.”

This means SES pay now ranges between $174,500 to $204,300 at remuneration level 1 and $441,201 to $509,750 at level 8.

The rest of the public service will continue to be subject to be subject to the 2.5% pay rise cap.

New salary ranges for NSW senior executive service

Band Per annum range
Band 4 – Secretary level $441,201 to $509,750
Band 3 – Deputy Secretary level $313,051 to $441,200
Band 2 – Executive Director level $248,851 to $313,050
Band 1 – Director level $174,500 to $248,850

Author Bio

David Donaldson

David Donaldson is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He's previously written for The Guardian and Crikey and holds a masters in international relations.