The Courier-Mail

Fat cat CEOs’ hid­den pay in the spotlight

- JOHN DAGGE

A BUMPER pay­day at Qan­tas and warn­ings that share­hold­ers are only see­ing “the tip of the ice­berg” when it comes to ex­ec­u­tive pay have thrust the is­sue back in the spotlight.

And, as al­ways, cor­po­rate Aus­tralia con­tin­ues to belt out some block­buster num­bers.

Qan­tas chief Alan Joyce (pic­tured) en­tered rar­efied air when it emerged last week he was awarded a 490 per cent pay rise for the year to June, to $11.9 mil­lion.

That is 100 times more than the av­er­age Qan­tas worker.

Aus­tralian Ser­vices Union na­tional sec­re­tary Linda White la­belled Mr Joyce’s re­mu­ner­a­tion “a kick in the guts” to the Qan­tas work­force, which is in the midst of hav­ing 5000 po­si­tions culled. “You can’t help but think if he had not have got that mas­sive pay rise, just how many jobs would have been saved,” Ms White said.

With the an­nual re­port­ing sea­son at a close, cor­po­rate Aus­tralia’s re­mu­ner­a­tion de­tails are be­gin­ning to trickle out.

James Hardie chief Louis Gries col­lected $US11.7 mil­lion for the year to March, or 131 times the av­er­age wage at the build­ing prod­ucts maker.

The Com­mon­wealth Bank’s Ian Narev col­lected $8.3 mil­lion in the year to June – 74 times the av­er­age CBA wage – while the $16.5 mil­lion Mac­quarie Group chief Ni­cholas Moore pock­eted was 60 times its av­er­age worker wage.

The num­bers are big and they are likely to be a lot big­ger if the find­ings of a new re­port by the Aus­tralian Coun­cil of Su­per­an­nu­a­tion In­vestors are any­thing to go by.

The re­port found the na­tion’s 10 high­est-paid cor­po­rate chiefs col­lec- tively reaped $70 mil­lion more in pay and perks than the $99.6 mil­lion that was re­ported in the last an­nual re­ports given to share­hold­ers. Stock op­tions, per­for­mance rights and the vest­ing of shares un­der longterm in­cen­tive schemes ac­count for the dif­fer­ence

ACSI chief Louise David­son says the dif­fer­ence mainly comes about be­cause lu­cra­tive long-term share op­tions are re­ported at their is­sue price, rather than the higher prices they are ul­ti­mately ex­er­cised at.

“Statu­tory re­port­ing is, per­haps, dis­clos­ing only the tip of the ice­berg in terms of the wealth ac­cru­ing to se­nior ex­ec­u­tives,” she said.

Aus­tralian Share­hold­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion chair­woman Diana D’Am­bra said ac­count­ing stan­dards that call for com­pa­nies to as­sess the “fair value” of stock-linked re­mu­ner­a­tion have been a long­stand­ing is­sue in try­ing to clar­ify just what an ex­ec­u­tive takes home. “Fair value can mean a lot of dif­fer­ent things to a lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple,” she said.

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