Interim icare chief executive Don Ferguson said he did not accept Mr Mookhey’s question and that many employees had secondary roles.
“That’s not against the rules,” he said, describing Mr Craig as having an “enormous capacity for work”.
As well as his position with icare, Mr Craig is also the chairman of New Zealand-based mortgage broking and insurance group Squirrel Group and holds a financial interest in Mind My Health Pty Ltd, which has provided mental health services in workers’ compensation matters not linked to icare.
He is also the chairman of the Australian Payments Network, an organisation that champions financial payment systems and keeps track of fraud from financial institutions.
Mr Craig told the inquiry that, while he had not declared his other positions in writing for three years, senior icare management had been told verbally about his other roles.
Mr Ferguson and Mr Craig fronted the inquiry with recently appointed chairman John Robertson, as the upper house examines revelations about icare’s deteriorating financial position and its underpayment of thousands of injured workers by up to $80 million.
In the past two years, the net loss sustained by the nominal insurer was more than $2.5 billion.
The inquiry also heard Mr Craig negotiated $35 million worth of contracts under an “unlimited delegation” power that allowed him to enter into contracts of any value for a new payment management system.
Mr Craig told the inquiry he was given written authority by former chief executive Vivek Bhatia. However icare policy required all contracts above $10 million to be approved by the board.
Despite being the chair of icare’s audit and risk committee, board member David Plumb told the inquiry he was not aware Mr Craig had unlimited authority to contract by direct negotiation.
Icare is working to repay thousands of workers after it was revealed thousands of errors had led to vast underpayments. Initial estimates suggested some 52,000 workers were affected.
Last week it issued a public notice inviting injured workers who received weekly payment compensation between October 2012 and October 2019 to come forward if they believed they had been underpaid.
Group executive Nick Allsop told the committee the early estimate of 52,000 workers was set in 2019 and the true number was between 4500 and 6000 injured workers.
“We do anticipate that the program for the nominal insurer should be as complete as it can be by the end of next year,” he said.
Greens MP David Shoebridge asked the icare representatives if it was appropriate to announce the remediation program via a public notice rather than contacting injured workers directly.
Mr Robertson said based on his previous experience, including as head of the union movement in NSW, he was concerned about “opening up a wound” if they contacted people directly.
“I was concerned about a letter arriving in the mail for somebody who might well have moved on from a terrible experience with workers’ compensation,” Mr Robertson said.
“I was conscious of not opening up a wound … being very conscious of the fact there could be some ramifications for people’s mental health as a result of revisiting this experience.”
Icare provides workers’ compensation insurance to more than 326,000 businesses and insures 3.6 million employees in the state.
Mr Robertson has announced disability advocate John Walsh and former Suncorp Group chief executive and managing director Michael Cameron will join the board as part of a wide-scale cultural review of icare.
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Lucy Cormack is a state political reporter with The
Sydney Morning Herald.