New icare CEO to become state’s highest paid public servant

Icare’s new CEO will become the highest paid public servant in NSW with an annual salary of $822,000.

Richard Harding

He’ll also get a yearly bonus of up to $411,000.

Icare Chair John Robertson on Wednesday announced insurance executive Richard Harding’s appointment as the new CEO and Managing Director of the troubled state-run workers compensation scheme, following the resignation of John Nagle last year.

Icare confirmed remuneration for the position has been set at $821,694.20 plus a 50 per cent bonus.

‘Greedy and out of touch’

Unions and Labor have slammed the decision to award Mr Harding a $120,000 payrise on his predecessor as greedy, offensive and out of touch.

“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,” Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey said.

Opposition finance spokesman Daniel Mookhey described the government’s decision as astounding.

He said Mr Harding now earned almost three times as much as Chief NSW Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant, who was last year named NSW Public Servant of the Year for her efforts against COVID.

“High salaries and lavish bonuses led to the ruin of the NSW workers compensation system,” Mr Mookey said.

“Instead of handing out a pay rise to icare’s new leader, (Treasurer) Dominic Perrotett should have put a stop to exorbitant salaries and bonus payments.

Rebuilding trust

Mr Harding was previously CEO at listed general insurer Tower Insurance in New Zealand between 2015-2020, and Australia’s last government-owned commercial insurer Territory Insurance Office (TIO).

At Tower, Mr Harding invested heavily in new IT systems in a move to transform the organisation into digital insurer.

Mr Harding said he’s looking forward to addressing the challenges facing icare and working to rebuild trust in the battered organisation.

“There’s no doubt it’s been a turbulent time for icare and I look forward to working with the Board and the executive to ensure we restore public confidence and deliver on key remediation activities,” Mr Harding said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Mr Harding starts with icare next Monday, January 18.

His appointment follows the announcement last month of two new icare board members  disability advocate John Walsh and financial services leader Michael Cameron.

Icare confirmed last year that 200 executives took home bonuses,  with its eight top executives pocketing $4 million in a single year.

The Legislative Assembly is due to vote on a Labor proposal to stop executive bonuses at the insurer in February.

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5 thoughts on “New icare CEO to become state’s highest paid public servant

  1. Front line workers had to take a pay cut, businesses closing down everywhere, and yet this government seems to find $1.2 million to fund the new CEO of Icare. While icare seriously needs an overhaul, I can’t help but wonder exactly what Mr Harding’s real intentions are Does he intend to improve icare for the general public or was he given the position so Liberal can have full control.

  2. Well at least this is not like the Australia Post pay packet debacle…..
    Nothing like seeing government / semi government out of step with private enterprise.

  3. The position has problems of responsibility, to manage and improve on. …. But surely, there must be a supporting staff members team, of how many, how
    $$ much??… What is the qualification for the team member, what field of expertise qualified in, to make the department justified to exist. …. Sorry! what appears to be a automatic bonus of 411 Thousand $$$ every year, is stretching the friendship, I say, very, very thin. … So! justifying point, of contribution to such extremely, extremely, excellent salary package, & yearly bonus What exactly is the dividend, from such an extraordinary $$ investment in the individual, and for what period??

  4. Has the GovernmentNews misquoted these top salaries as the actual total ICare budget to be distributed amongst the recipients of worker’s compensation claims.
    These obscene figures make Christine Holgate look like a female sacrificial minnow.
    To bring a bit of equity at least one zero needs to be removed from these salaries.

    1. This is incredible. A glaring example of why this model of service provision is not working as intended for the beneficiaries. Last year the AG reported that salaries at that time were too high at $660K annual and what is it now…over $880k plus half again as a bonus. Totally ridiculous.
      Also another prime example of the revolving door for execs to flow between a senior gov position and a senior private sector position in the topical sector of concern. Is it possible for a profit maximizing private sector executive to effectively perform this CEO role for i Care? Reminds me of the “Jobs for the Mates” behavior so prevalent at this senior level of employment. Perhaps we need more public visibility over the hiring process for these roles.

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