Ecan commissioners complain about increased pay reports

Not so, say the commissioners – they are not paid a salary. They are paid a daily rate.

The government’s appointed apparatchiks at Environment Canterbury today complained about the way their remuneration has been reported.

Local Canterbury newspapers highlighted a “salary increase” for commissioners to a combined $897,249, with commissioner David Caygill more than doubling his take home pay in a year from $83,589 to $191,848 in the recent financial year.

Not so, say the commissioners – they are not paid a salary. They are paid a daily rate.

“Therefore, they have not received a salary increase, as several reports have claimed,” a prepared media statement from Ecan says.

“Over the past financial year (2011-12) the total remuneration for the commissioners was more than in the previous year ($897,249 in 2011-12, compared with $814,078 in 2010-11). Within that total, some of the commissioners worked more days and some fewer, so some earned more and some earned less.

"The payments include travel expenses – chairwoman Dame Margaret Bazley, who took a remuneration cut from $191,848 to $168,470 – wings into Christchurch from her Wairarapa home for a few days of the week.

“The overall increase in remuneration is attributable to Environment Canterbury’s increased activities around the Canterbury Water Management Strategy," the statement says.

One of the sacked elected councillors and now a Greens MP, Eugenie Sage, says the remuneration reports must have really got under the commissiners’ skin.

“I think they have been poorly advised to complain. They would have been better to shut up.

"It’s certainly more than the 12 elected councillors were collectively paid and we attended many more committee and stakeholder meetings over rates, pests and various portfolio issues,” Ms Sage says.

The government’s commissioners at Ecan are:

Rex Williams, chancellor of Canterbury University, chair of the West Coast District Health Board, chair of H W Richardson Group and a trustee of the Water Rights Trust; Dame Margaret Bazley (chairwoman); former Labour MP David Caygill (deputy chairman); David Bedford, a small vineyard owner in North Canterbury, chair of Enterprise North Canterbury and a former Telecom manager; Donald Couch, a Ngai Tahu representative and pro-chancellor of Lincoln University; Tom Lambie, a dairy farmer at Pleasant Pt, South Canterbury, chancellor of Lincoln University and chairman of Opuha Dam; and Peter Skelton, a former Environment Court judge and associate professor of resource management law at Lincoln University.