Big Payouts an Indictment of Old Management

  • Jack Elder
Internal Affairs

Internal Affairs Minister Jack Elder is aware of the suggestions the proper legal process was not followed when the employment contracts of the former Fire Service Chief Executive and National Commander were drawn up.

"I am most concerned to hear that the previous Fire Service Commission apparently did not consult the State Services Commission before entering into an extremely generous contract with the Fire Service chief executive."

"I am also concerned that the Fire Service chief executive in turn apparently did not consult the SSC before granting similarly generous resignation provisions to the then national commander, as required."

A total of $785,000 was paid out to these two officers, and to two managers who also chose to leave the Fire Service.

"Granting such large payments for voluntary resignations in the public service is almost unprecedented, and I am very surprised the previous Minister of Internal Affairs had nothing to say about it."

Mr Elder said he was aware the new Commission took legal advice before paying out on the contracts, but he will be asking the Commission to investigate if the money is in any way recoverable from any party.

Under the Fire Service Act, the employment contract for the chief executive is with the Fire Service Commission, while the national commander's contract is with the chief executive. The Act requires consultation with the SSC before both contracts are finalised, Mr Elder said.

"The Minister of Internal Affairs has no legal involvement, but obviously should take a very close interest.

"That is why it is so extraordinary Peter Dunne showed no interest in it when he was Minister. The whole matter just reinforces my belief that the old system of Fire Service management was badly in need of an overhaul.

"Mr Dunne's recent newspaper article stating there was no need for change in the Fire Service vividly demonstrates again his lack of awareness of what was actually happening in the management of that organisation."