Rennie announces $425K payout for education boss who quit in tiff with Parata

The government has revealed a $425,000 payout for Lesley Longstone, the former head of the Ministry of Education who quit in December amid controversy over Novopay, and a "strained relationship" with Education Minister Hekia Parata.

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie today released details of the severance payment to Lesley Longstone, the former Secretary and Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education.

The CEO left on 8 February and received a severance payment of $267,952, equivalent to six months’ remuneration before tax.

"At the conclusion of Ms Longstone’s employment, she also received other end of term entitlements. These included outstanding holiday pay and a payment in lieu of notice," Mr Rennie says.

"While notice would usually have been worked out, the desirability of a timely leadership transition led the parties to agree that a payment in lieu of notice was appropriate. This payment and outstanding holiday pay totalled $157,523.33."

"Therefore, total before tax payments to Ms Longstone relating to the ending of her employment as chief executive totalled $425,475.33," Mr Rennie says.

The State Services Commission expects to advertise for a permanent Chief Executive later this month.   

The Commission has refused further comment.

"Strained relationship" - Rennie
At the time of Ms Longstone's resignation, Mr Rennie told media "There‘s clearly been a strained relationship between the minister and chief executive. Clearly there’s now an opportunity for the ministry to go forward.”

Mr Rennie said from time to time chief executives and ministers will have strained relationships, but most of it never becomes public.

“I have a responsibility for thinking about how any Ministry goes forward, and this is a critical ministry for New Zealand. It spends over $12 billion of taxpayers’ money, it’s dealing with one of the important issues of our future. Key to any ministry succeeding is an effective relationship between a minister and CEO.”

The Commissioner said he and Ms Longstone came to the view that new leadership was required.

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