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PM takes aim at Super Fund boss Adrian Orr's pay increase

Bill English says he's disappointed by Super Fund Adrian Orr's pay increase.

Jason Walls and BusinessDesk
Mon, 20 Feb 2017

Prime Minister Bill English has criticised the board of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund for approving a 36 percent payrise for chief executive Adrian Orr last year, and suggested there could be a shakeup in how CEOs of the largest state entities are paid.

At a press conference this afternoon, English said he was disappointed with the board's decision to lift Adrian Orr's salary to over $1 million in 2016. As finance minister, English opposed the raise as "too large in the current economic climate" and suggested a 2.5 percent hike instead. The prime minister said the raise would be taken into account when it comes to reappointing board members.

Mr Orr ended up receiving a 23.4 percent increase taking his taxable income to $1.03m and earning him the mantle of New Zealand’s highest paid public servant.

The NZ Super Fund board has defended the increase, saying it’s not high compared to his international peers.

Although Mr English notes the sovereign wealth fund is one of the best in the world and has a good track record, he says he will hold the large pay increase against board members when it comes to their reappointment.

“Some boards are a bit over-enthusiastic about what their chief executives should be paid,” he says.

“The government has a view, the board has taken a different view and I think any board that takes a different view when it is a 100% subsidiary takes risks about tenure.”

Mr English says he’s thinking about changes to the salary review process for some of New Zealand’s biggest government sectors, such as ACC, the Reserve Bank, Housing NZ and the Superfund.

“Having been finance minister, it’s a bit of an unsatisfactory annual haggle and it would maybe be better to set a level at the start of the appointment and leave it at that,” he says.  

“We have four of these very large public organisations where this issue keeps coming up because they are benchmarked against that standard that’s not the local standard.”

Jason Walls and BusinessDesk
Mon, 20 Feb 2017
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PM takes aim at Super Fund boss Adrian Orr's pay increase