SOE bosses’ packages need a trim
Business leaders can feel the heavy breathing on the backs of their necks. In the face of angst over petrol prices and the frustrations rising with them, the Government has announced it will force that industry into opening its books and providing greater transparency into how it sets prices and manages profit margins.
Its coalition partners, the Greens, have signalled they might push for the same scrutiny of the food business, and the ‘‘cosy’’ relationship enjoyed by the few main players in the supermarket game.
But if this Government is so keen to be seen addressing the apparent inequities at the bowser, the bread counter and elsewhere, it needs to look a little further, and probably into its own backyard. State Services Minister Chris Hipkins and his boss, Jacinda Ardern, have announced that performance bonuses for public sector bosses are to end. That followed a freeze on MPs’ salaries, and highlighted a desire to place downward pressure on rising chief executive remuneration.
But if such things are important to this Government, we urge Hipkins, Ardern and Co to look a little further still, to the significant salaries paid to those running the country’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
As revealed in a story published by Stuff, a number of chief executives, some running relatively small, low-profile organisations, are making more than $1 million a year in salaries and bonuses.
Steven Carden, the boss at Landcorp, made close to threequarters of a million over the past year, including a $90,000 bonus. His salary has risen close to $200,000 over the past two years, despite the Government receiving just one $5m dividend since 2014.
Sir Brian Roche pocketed $1.68m when he ended his stewardship of NZ Post last year, despite the decline of its national footprint and the substantial reduction in services. His successor, David Walsh, has signed on for a mere $896,826.
Other bosses doing handily include those at KiwiRail ($1.2m) and Kordia ($1m). Former All Black Bill Osborne made $1.27m when he left the top job at property information agency Quotable Value.
These are crazy sums in any context, but more so when nurses and teachers are having to strike for relatively modest pay increases, studies repeatedly show the steady decline of ‘‘real’’ wages, and that pesky gap between rich and poor continues to widen.
This Government has announced that it’s flush with cash. Our cash. We hope it uses that to address the growing gap and less to line the pockets of those who already receive more than enough.