Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Solid Energy payout details kept secret

Don Elder was paid more than $1.1 million by Solid Energy in his last full year in the job. Photo / NZPA
Don Elder was paid more than $1.1 million by Solid Energy in his last full year in the job. Photo / NZPA

Solid Energy wants to keep secret details of the final payment made to former chief executive Don Elder who left the company less than three weeks before its near financial collapse was revealed.

Elder was paid more than $1.1 million in his last full year in the job as the company was sinking deeply into debt and then had to lay off hundreds of miners and staff at its Christchurch headquarters, dubbed "The Palace" by workers on the West Coast.

An application under the Official Information Act for final payments made to Elder was refused even though a breakdown of remuneration for chief executives is required to be published in annual reports.

In its response to the Business Herald, a Solid Energy solicitor, Rob Page, said Elder was paid in accordance with his contractual entitlements and would not receive a redundancy payment.

"Solid Energy does not agree to provide the specific details of payments to be made to Dr Elder as this would be a breach of Dr Elder's privacy."

Page said the public interest was not sufficient.

"While we understand there may exist a countervailing public interest consideration that would make it desirable to release the full details of payments made, we do not believe this consideration outweighs the protection of privacy."

State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said the company would have to provide details.

"My understanding is that he got his contractual entitlements and nothing more."

Efforts to contact Elder were unsuccessful yesterday.

The Ombudsman has been asked to review Solid Energy's decision on the OIA request.

- NZ Herald

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