NSW Labor slams iCare executive payouts

·2-min read

The NSW Labor opposition says lucrative payouts for departing executives at troubled state insurer iCare are tantamount to a "golden parachute".

But the agency insists the three departing executives will only receive entitlements in line with their employment contracts.

iCare announced on Thursday that interim chief executive Don Ferguson would leave the government-owned insurer in six months' time, while group executives Rob Craig and Sara Kahlau would depart sooner.

New iCare chief executive Richard Harding said he would establish a "smaller, more accountable" leadership team which would prioritise the improvement of "risk, compliance and governance performance".

"This is the first step to refocus on core priorities - caring for injured workers and road users and supporting NSW businesses, home owners and the NSW government," Mr Harding said in a statement on Friday.

But NSW Labor finance spokesman Daniel Mookhey said in a statement on Friday the combined $1.2 million payout for Mr Ferguson, Mr Craig and Ms Kahlau was unacceptable given the financial scandals plaguing the insurer.

It emerged last year that iCare had underpaid thousands of injured workers millions of dollars in compensation and endured major staffing issues.

Former chief executive John Nagle was forced to resign in August after it was revealed he had not properly declared his wife's contract with the insurer.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet also came under fire after it emerged two iCare-paid ministerial staffers had been seconded to work in his office.

Mr Mookhey said the three iCare executives should have been fired by Mr Perrottet, rather than receive lucrative entitlements as they depart.

"iCare's top executives have been handed golden parachutes paid for by the employers of NSW ... the treasurer should have given them nothing and instead fired them for gross incompetence," Mr Mookhey said.

"Injured workers can only dream of receiving the same red carpet treatment iCare has given their failed executives as they push them out the door."

But Mr Harding insisted departing iCare personnel will only receive entitlements in line with their contracts.

"These changes incur short term costs but are important in setting the future direction and bringing about accountability and focus on performance and outcomes," Mr Harding said.

iCare is an employer-funded workers insurer, owned by the state and overseen by the NSW treasurer but independent from government. It was one of three organisations that replaced WorkCover in 2015.

It provides workers compensation insurance to more than 326,000 businesses in NSW, insuring 3.6 million employees.

In August, the NSW government announced a statutory five-year review of the company's workers' compensation scheme would be brought forward and would inquire into the iCare board's conduct and culture.

Labor has also sought to end iCare executive bonuses after claims eight executives shared $8 million in salaries and bonuses over two years.