Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Departing execs take $2m in exit pay

More than $2 million was paid out last year to departing public chief executives - with one boss taking away a parting package close to $350,000.

A study of what are termed last day of duty entitlements found that at least $1.58 million was paid to around 20 bosses who left their jobs during the 2010/11 year and whose pay is set by the State Services Commission.

Three outgoing chief executives whose pay is covered by the Remuneration Authority received final payouts, among them former Police Commissioner Howard Broad, who got a $333,398 golden handshake when he retired last March.

The largest listed final pay was to former Treasury Secretary John Whitehead, who received $348,287.

Other big payouts were made to the heads of disestablished or merged entities, including $187,852 to Judy Campbell of the former Tairawhiti Polytechnic, $160,993 to Mervyn English of the former Electricity Commission and $155,279 to Jonathan Walmsley of Telford Rural Polytechnic.

Entitlements "at last day of duty" cover anything that is paid to a chief executive on their last day of service that they are entitled to receive as set out in their contract, a State Services Commission spokeswoman said.

Typically they include accrued annual leave, and a pro-rated performance payment if one is made, and may also include recognition of service leave or retiring leave.

The commission would not reveal specific details of each of the payouts, saying terms and conditions of employment for each of the chief executives was private information.

The Weekend Herald approached organisations whose payouts were made in the 2009/10 year, when they were not reported, and requested the amounts paid out.

Those which responded did not divulge figures but stated the payments included entitlements such as unused annual leave, payment for statutory holidays and final pay.

One organisation, the New Zealand Tourism Board, would notsay what proportion of formerchief executive George Hickton's $210,000-$219,000 listed remuneration band for 2009/10 was parting money and described the package as containing "final pay and payment for annual leave accruals".

Remuneration consultant Jarrod Moyle said such entitlements varied among organisations and in most cases were not likely to be large.

"It's always going to look like a lot of money and many people don't realise the responsibilities of the roles ... and also the skills and experience needed for those roles," he said.

"As a taxpayer, I want to be sure we have the best possible people running the public sector, but also balancing out with the fact that this is taxpayer money and needs to be spent wisely ... and I think the State Services Commission is acutely aware of that."

This week, a Herald study showed that public organisations have paid about $90 million in a year to their chief executives, who received an average of $340,000 and an extra 4.3 per cent more than the previous year.

In the same period, median income from wages and salaries rose $1600 (4 per cent) to $41,600.

Golden goodbyes

What public bosses got on the way out the door.
* $348,287 - John Whitehead, former Treasury Secretary.
* $333,398 - Howard Broad, former Police Commissioner.
* $187,852 - Judy Campbell, former chief executive of since merged Tairawhiti Polytechnic.
* $160,993 - Mervyn English, former general manager of the former Electricity Commission.
* $155,279 - Jonathan Walmsley, former chief executive of Telford Rural Polytechnic, now a division of Lincoln University.

- NZ Herald

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