A 3.5 per cent pay increase to the stood-down CEO of the Canberra Institute of Technology should be reviewed, according to the Canberra Liberals.
Leader Elizabeth Lee has written to Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the ACT Remuneration Tribunal, calling for a review of the recent decision by the ACT Remuneration Tribunal, which took Leanne Cover’s total package to $373,061 a year.
Ms Cover was stood down in June 2022 while the ACT Integrity Commission investigates $8.5 million worth of CIT contracts with “complexity and systems thinker” Patrick Hollingworth.
Ms Lee said Ms Cover’s pay increase was not in line with community expectations and should be reviewed immediately.
“The Canberra community is extremely concerned that the stood-down CEO, who has been on paid leave since July 2022, has been awarded a significant pay rise,” Ms Lee said.
“I have written to the Chief Minister and asked him to use his powers under the legislation to write to the ACT Remuneration Tribunal and seek an inquiry to determine the remuneration allowances of the CEO position of the Canberra Institute of Technology as soon as possible.
“Canberra taxpayers have been footing the bill for two CEOs now for nearly 18 months, and this pay rise just adds insult to injury.”
The bill for paying two CEOs is likely more than $700,000 a year.
Ms Cover’s pay increase occurred at the start of this financial year when the independent tribunal raised the salaries of full-time statutory office holders, including the Victims of Crime Commissioner and the CEO of Legal Aid ACT.
At the same time, CIT is paying Melbourne-based Christine Robertson as interim chief executive.
Ms Lee has also asked Mr Barr and the ACT Remuneration Tribunal to consider recent changes the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal made to revoke compensation to Secretaries who have been similarly stood down pending an investigation or have been found to breach the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct.
“I have written to the ACT Remuneration Tribunal to consider similar safeguards that have been put in place by the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal to ensure that ACT taxpayers do not find themselves in a similar situation in the future,” Ms Lee said.
“I hope that the ACT Greens and Chief Minister will support this position and also write to the ACT Remuneration Tribunal and recommend similar changes.”
Integrity Commissioner Michael Adams KC told annual report hearings last month that the corruption watchdog was close to releasing the first findings from its investigation into the consultancy contracts awarded to Mr Hollingworth.
Over five years, CIT awarded more than $8.5 million to his companies, ThinkGarden and Redrouge Nominees Pty Ltd, for services including mentoring and organisational transformation.
The last and most significant of those contracts was worth $4.99 million and was signed in March 2022, four months after the Integrity Commission first received a complaint.