Australia NSW transport boss to receive more than $800,000 payout

08:55  08 february  2021
08:55  08 february  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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  NSW transport boss to receive more than $800,000 payout © AAP

NSW's outgoing top transport bureaucrat Rodd Staples will receive a payout of more than $800,000 after he was sacked without reason six weeks after a positive performance review with the Premier.

Mr Staples, the secretary of Transport for NSW, will leave his position on February 19, three months after he was told his contract would be terminated with "no stated reason".

Correspondence between Mr Staples and Tim Reardon, the secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, was provided to NSW Parliament under an order from the upper house.

The documents reveal Mr Reardon told Mr Staples, a long-term public servant, that he would be sacked under section 41 of the Government Sector Employment Act, which allows for executives to be terminated "at any time, for any or no stated reason and without notice".

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Documents show Mr Staples' termination payment will be $837,584, which includes 38-weeks pay and his outstanding leave entitlements. His annual salary is $599,000.

In a letter to Mr Reardon, Mr Staples said there had been no issues with his performance.

"I accept this termination in the context that my documented performance, including my recent performance review with the Premier, has been satisfactory with no performance issues raised," the letter, dated November 17, said.

"I accept this termination on the basis that there will be no negative formal or informal statements made about my performance and its relationship to my termination before or after the date of my termination."

He said it had been a "privilege" to work within the government since 2005.

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Mr Staples told staff of his departure just two days after the Herald revealed that the NSW government paid three times as much as the Valuer-General's estimate for a parcel of highly contaminated land in Camellia.

The land earned Sydney property developer Billbergia a $15 million windfall in a matter of months.

Mr Staples, who replaced Mr Reardon as transport secretary, was head of the Sydney Metro rail projects at the time of the controversial land deal.

NSW Labor finance spokesman Daniel Mookhey said Mr Staples' termination was an "internal power-play at taxpayers' expense".

"To fire a deeply-respected public servant like Rodd Staples for no reason is an arrogant act that risks the delivery of every transport project meant to create jobs," he said.

"The Premier needs to take responsibility and explain to taxpayers why they've paid close to $1 million to indulge in this internecine power trip."

Following the Camellia revelations, Transport Minister Andrew Constance referred the toxic land deal to both the Auditor-General and the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The NSW upper house also voted in favour of referring it to the ICAC.

In announcing Mr Staples' departure, Mr Constance said "now is the time for a new focus on delivering our record infrastructure program".

Mr Staples took over from Mr Reardon in 2018 but had worked in the department for 15 years.

In an email to staff last year, Mr Staples said he was sad to say goodbye.

"Transport is in my blood and is part of my family's story, with my grandfather helping to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Now almost 100 years later, I've had the privilege of being part of this great organisation for over 15 years," he said.

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