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Australia Perrottet's staff audit over icare labelled a 'sham'

02:06  11 august  2020
02:06  11 august  2020 Source:   smh.com.au

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Dominic Perrottet ' s Chief of Staff quit on Friday over the iCare scandal. (AAP Image: Joel Carrett). NSW Opposition calls the iCare audit a " sham inquiry". Ms Berejiklian absolved her office from any blame. Mr Perrottet initially supported iCare 's leadership team.

Dom Perrottet MP, Epping, New South Wales. 6,954 likes · 665 talking about this. Authorised by Dominic Perrottet , Liberal Party of Australia, NSW Dominic Perrottet is the NSW Treasurer and the Member for Epping. Before entering parliament, Domini

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The official tasked with auditing staffing arrangements in Dominic Perrottet's office is a former deputy chairman of icare, sparking concerns his inquiry would not fully explore the relationship between the Treasurer's office and the troubled public insurance body.

Treasury secretary Michael Pratt will conduct the audit, but his appointment has been branded a sham by the state opposition.

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Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday expressed full confidence in her Treasurer, who is under increasing pressure following the revelation last week that the salaries of two of his personal ministerial staff were paid by icare.

Mr Perrottet on Thursday night accepted the resignation of his chief of staff Nigel Freitas, who took responsibility for what he said was an administrative error relating to the secondment of two icare staff, including policy adviser Edward Yap. Mr Freitas had worked with Mr Perrottet for four years.

Secondments from government sector agencies such as icare are permitted and occur regularly. However, the Herald has been told the arrangements relating to Mr Yap and an administrative assistant were discovered on Thursday to have not been documented as required by regulations.

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Icare is a state-owned agency created in 2015, whose board is directly accountable to Mr Perrottet.

Ms Berejiklian said her office had no role in the staffing decisions made in the Treasurer's office.

"I can confirm those arrangements were made directly between the Treasurer's office and icare," Ms Berejiklian said.

"I can I say I do have confidence in the Treasurer, he is an extremely good treasurer ... in relation to what occurred in his office ... we have asked the Treasury secretary to undertake an audit."

But the Opposition has raised concerns about the Treasury secretary conducting the review, because Mr Pratt was previously the deputy chair of icare.

Labor's spokesman for finance Daniel Mookhey said "it's a sham inquiry, into a sham arrangement".

"The person who is now investigating the Treasurer's office himself is entitled to be asked questions," Mr Mookhey said.

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In 2015, Liberal Treasurer Dominic Perrottet created iCare - the agency responsible for NSW' s workers' compensation scheme.

Mr Freitas' resignation followed icare's chief executive John Nagle quitting the public insurer after appearing before a parliamentary inquiry last Monday. Mr Nagle resigned from the agency just hours after appearing before the inquiry, where it emerged he had failed to properly declare that his wife had been given a contract with icare.

Another icare board member, Mark Lennon, the president of the NSW Labor Party, has also resigned in a bid to avoid complicating the Opposition's prosecution of the agency's poor performance.

The NSW upper house has also been recalled, after the Opposition and crossbench united to force the house to sit at the end of the month.

The parliamentary inquiry has also been extended in order to question icare chairman Michael Carapiet, a former Macquarie Group investment banker and long-time Liberal Party donor, and State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) chairman Trevor Matthews.

A joint investigation by the Herald, The Age and ABC's Four Corners program into the nation's $60 billion workers' compensation system, which uncovered mismanagement in icare and "unethical and immoral conduct" in Victoria's scheme, WorkSafe.

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