Goff attacks ministry pay rise

Labour's Phil Goff has attacked a big pay rise for the head of the Foreign Affairs ministry as a blatant double standard at a time when many diplomats are losing their jobs.

Figures on state sector chief executives' pay released today showed Mfat boss John Allen's salary last year was the highest among chief executives, with a pay rise of $40,000 taking his package between $620,000 and $629,999.

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Allen has come under intense scrutiny over a major restructuring which has seen the entitlements of some diplomats slashed and scores of staff laid off.

"In a year when dozens of the ministry's professional staff have lost their jobs, and with the Government also attempting to slash allowances for staff posted overseas, this is nothing more than double standards," Goff said.

"If the Government is so broke that it has to sack hundreds of staff and cut their incomes, then surely it should be leading by example and restraining salary increases at the top end. Its call for economies to be made is a flagrant case of 'doing as we say but not as we do'."

Goff said the restructuring at Mfat was a total botch-up by the Government.

"It badly damaged the ministry and hugely undermined morale and the ministry's effectiveness. In fact the effect was so negative that the Government had to reverse many of its original proposals."

The blame rested with Foreign Minister Murray McCully and his chief executive, Goff said.

The figures, released by the State Services Commission also showed shamed former head of the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) Katrina Bach was paid out $81,105 in entitlements when she left the job earlier this year.

Bach was sanctioned by the commission in April after its investigation into an altercation she had with employee Jaime Rawlings in front of several other staff members. It was alleged that Bach swore at and manhandled Rawlings in July 2011.

Bach had been on a one-year contract at DBH after her employment was extended by Cabinet in May last year.
Corrections Department chief executive Barry Matthews was paid $41,529 in entitlements when he left the job at the end of 2010. Matthews' replacement, Ray Smith, is on $420,000 to $429,999.

The departing chief executive of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Sir Maarten Weevers, was paid out $9466 in entitlements.

Rennie said entitlements paid to chief executives on the last day of duty may include retiring leave, annual leave not taken, employer superannuation payments owing on end of term entitlements and salary in lieu of a notice period.

Overall, the average increase in base salary for chief executives was 2.7 per cent. That compared with movement in average base salary across all public service staff of 3 per cent, Rennie said.

Among others to have received a pay rise, Housing New Zealand chief executive Lesley McTurk went from $460,000 to $469,999 last year up to $480,000 to $489,999 this year.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage boss Lewis Holden climbed from $330,000 to $339,999 last year up to $350,000 to $359,999.

One fifth of state sector bosses took an effective pay cut with either no change to their pay or a reduction.

Among those taking a cut was Education Review Office chief executive Graham Stoop, who went from $330,000 to $339,999 last year down to $320,000 to $329,999.

"Our policy is that chief executive remuneration should be flexible, transparent, with modest increases that are performance-related, and take account of business issues such as recruitment, retention, and affordability," Rennie said.

"We want to attract, retain, and motivate suitable, highly competent chief executives.''