The review by Challis and Company also found non-executive directors believed Mr Nagle was no longer “the right leader,” describing the state of icare during the height of the pandemic as “potentially perilous.”
Around three months after the review, Mr Nagle was forced to resign when it emerged he failed to properly declare his wife had been given a contract with icare. The agency has been the subject of heavy scrutiny following revelations it underpaid thousands of injured workers by up to $80 million.
Former chair of icare’s board Michael Carapiet on Tuesday appeared before the upper house inquiry for the second time.
Mr Carapiet, a former Macquarie Group investment banker and Liberal Party donor, was the chair of the agency since its inception, earning around $200,000 a year.
On Tuesday he gave an at-times fiery testimony about the criticisms expressed in the confidential board review.
“It was about as good as it could have been, I think, given all the circumstances,” he said, describing the board as “perfectly competent and experienced.”
“But it’s a very honest view from all the directors and I appreciate that even though I might not agree with all the comments from the executives… it’s full and frank, basically.”
He acknowledged that, by the time Mr Nagle left icare, some of the board members had lost more confidence than others. “I think there was a need for a change,” he said.
Upper house Greens MP David Shoebridge put it to Mr Carapiet that the board were “treated like mushrooms by the executives, given glossy PowerPoints, half baked reports, all spin.”
“You never held the executive to account for the failings… did you? You didn’t do your job as chair,” he said.
Mr Carapiet responded: “That is incorrect, Mr Shoebridge.”
The upper house committee on Tuesday also asked Mr Carapiet about whether he had signed off on late declarations for 42 gifts received by another former chief executive – Vivek Bhatia – such as lunches and breakfasts.
Mr Carapiet said he could not recall the day that he signed it and that none of the gifts warranted “the amount of time we’re spending on it.”
“This is a $38 billion organisation with expenses annually of about four to $5 billion… There’s not one item here that I can see that has an individual item for Mr Bhatia for himself that is too much over $100… should I check he had a cup of coffee or a sandwich?”
Labor’s Daniel Mookhey asked Mr Carapiet if he was concerned about creating a perception that icare was indifferent to whether it was following its own policies.
“I do not wish to create that perception at all,” Mr Carapiet said. “I am raising an objection to your line of questioning to ask me [about] relatively small amounts of money in the overall scheme of things.”
Icare has had a separate conflict of interest policy and a gifts and benefits policy since 2016. The threshold amount for declaring a gift or benefit is $100.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said a refresh of the icare board is one of the top priorities for the new chair John Robertson.
“With these new appointments progress has been made to ensure icare is delivering for injured workers and providing them with the support they need and deserve,” he said.
Lucy Cormack is a state political reporter with The
Sydney Morning Herald.