Standing committee chair Tim Wilson has questioned why Rest didn’t follow its own advice on executive remuneration when it awarded bonuses to a number of executives.
Rest chief executive Vicki Doyle told the standing committee on economics that while executives received zero increase on their salary, they were still awarded 60 per cent to 80 per cent “portions” of their bonuses in recognition of the fund’s performance and the “extraordinary hours” that staff had worked.
“So they haven’t taken that much of a hit, really. If it’s say, a 25 per cent bonus, it sounds like they were then paid a 20 per cent bonus instead,” Mr Wilson said, before questioning why Rest, which is a member of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), hadn’t heeded that body’s advice on remuneration during COVID-19.
“I take the example of somebody like Alan Joyce, who’s basically taken a 100 per cent bath and you’re saying ‘we’re prepared to take a 20 per cent bath’…does that strike you as hypocrisy?” he said.
Ms Doyle said that the examples “weren’t necessarily comparable” and that Rest salaries were benchmarked to the median standards of industry funds and so were lower than those of the ASX-listed companies ACSI had engaged with. Mr Wilson was undeterred.
“This strikes me as massively inconsistent. We’re hearing a lot of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ in terms of various funds today, including the expectations of ACSI as well,” Mr Wilson said.
However, Rest managed to avoid further investigation on the matter of an executive who moved almost half a million dollars within the fund at the same time as its unlisted assets were set to be revalued. ASIC is now looking into the matter.
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