The Post

Review boss ‘worth $2000 a day fee’


A DECISION to pay senior public servant Paula Rebstock $2000 a day to overhaul the struggling Child, Youth and Family service is a disgrace, Labour leader Andrew Little says.

The Government has defended its decision to approve Rebstock’s pay level – double the usual maximum rate – saying her experience and the scale of the task justifies the bill.

Social Developmen­t Minister Anne Tolley announced in April that the former Commerce Commission boss had been chosen to lead an expert group tasked with overhaulin­g CYF’s operations and governance.

It was revealed yesterday that Rebstock was being paid $2000 a day for her work, double the usual rate, after the Government approved a special exemption to allow the payment.

Little said Rebstock’s pay rate was a disgrace, with the amount of money involved showing how the Cabinet was ‘‘out of touch’’.

‘‘I think for a government department that we now clearly know is underresou­rced, struggling to do its job, dealing with some of the most vulnerable young people in the country, to have somebody come along being paid $10,000 a week to review it, that’s a disgrace.’’

Little said Rebstock had ‘‘done very well out of the New Zealand taxpayer’’ through a range of appointmen­ts to government boards and panels in a ‘‘pretty patchy career’’, including a troubled inquiry into a leak documents.

‘‘If she was the great person she was, and public-spirited as she ought to be, she’d be offering to do the CYF review at a much discounted rate, and show New Zealanders that she . . . cares about some of the most vulnerable. ‘‘She’s in it for herself.’’ Prime Minister John Key said Rebstock’s work was ‘‘incredibly important’’ and worth the fee she was receiving, given the significan­ce of the problems facing CYF and the scale of likely investment needed to fix it.

‘‘We’re talking about young people, we’re talking about very vulnerable young people, and we’re talking about young people who the system has failed for a long period of time.

‘‘In the end, we get the best advice we can: sometimes we pay

of more for that, sometimes we pay a bit less.’’

Key would not comment on what discussion­s the Cabinet had before it approved Rebstock’s fee, which was set by the State Services Commission.

Tolley said Rebstock’s previous work leading an overhaul of the Community Probation Service was why she had picked her for the job.

‘‘I know she has good experience in having a look at the system, and even the high-level review that we’ve just had has unearthed informatio­n that we haven’t had before, gone into it in a depth we haven’t seen before, and I knew that was what she was going to bring to the job.’’

Tolley said the size of the challenge facing CYF meant the Government needed to secure the best people possible.

‘‘This is a very big job, and these kids deserve to have the best people designing a system for them,’’ she said.

Tolley said Rebstock was not working on the CYF project fulltime, but she did not have figures on how much she had been paid to date.

Paula Rebstock

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