ACC head's $100k payout defended

Last updated 13:29 15/02/2013
Ralph Stewart
Ralph Stewart

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ACC chairperson Paula Rebstock is rejecting suggestions of a "scapegoat" bonus being paid to former chief executive Ralph Stewart.

Stewart was given a performance bonus of $100,493 when he left the corporation in what Labour spokesman Andrew Little says was "sympathy money" paid out by the board.

The corporation has confirmed Stewart also received $22,765.05 in lieu of accrued leave and $23,158.98 for his statutory leave entitlement.

The $100,493.00 was his "normal 'at risk' component" for 2012 taking his total final pay out to $146,417.03.

"Mr Stewart received 90 per cent of the at-risk component of his remuneration agreement for the first half of 2012, and 100 per cent of his at-risk component for the second half of the year," Rebstock said.

The second half year component included recognition that Stewart remained in his role beyond his resignation, pending the appointment of an acting chief executive in December, she said.

Little said the bonus was paid by the board because Stewart had quit so early in his tenure but could not be held responsible for the systems that allowed the huge privacy breach to whistleblower Bronwyn Pullar.

"But he got caught up in the (ACC Minister) Judith Collins maelstrom of getting rid of people," Little said.

"It should never have happened. If you talk to staff he was the one person they had confidence in ... to turn the culture around and get the thing fixed."

Fallout from the March 2012 privacy breach saw the resignations of former ACC minister Nick Smith and the departure of board chairman John Judge and directors John McCliskie and Rob Campbell.

Stewart resigned but stayed on until the end of 2012.

But Little said there was no way he could have been assessed on his performance to get 100 per cent of his "at risk" component, which he had received.

"It comes down to one simple thing," Little said.

"He should never have gone and the board paid the money out in some sort of element of sympathy."

Stewart declined to comment.

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