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PM criticises Orr's huge salary increase

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/02/2017

The NZ Super Fund's board has given chief executive Adrian Orr a huge salary increase and Prime Minister Bill English has hinted they might not be re-appointed.

It's just been revealed Mr Orr was given a 36 per cent pay increase last year, taking his salary to more than $1 million.

That's on top of a 22 per cent hike two years earlier, and makes him New Zealand's highest-paid public servant.

Mr Orr's latest pay increase was revealed in documents obtained by Fairfax under the Official Information Act.

Mr English says he's disappointed and the salary increase will be "taken into account" when the board members come up for re-appointment.

The documents show that when he was finance minister, Mr English told the board an increase of just 2.5 per cent would be more appropriate.

"The government has a view, the board has taken a different view," he said at his post-cabinet press conference on Monday.

"I think any board that takes a different view, when it is a 100 per cent subsidiary, takes risks about tenure and that will be discussed when the appointments come up."

Board chair Catherine Savage says she "absolutely" stands by the decision.

"The fund is performing strongly and the latest figures show an 18.7 per cent return over the last 12 months," she told RNZ.

"In dollar terms that's many hundreds of millions and Adrian's salary and his performance is completely aligned with the performance of the fund."

Mr English acknowledged that Mr Orr and the board had done a good job with the Super Fund's investments, and that too would be taken into account.

"But they are public entities, and the government has a view about remuneration increases."

The prime minister also had a message for other big government organisations, saying he knew there was pressure for substantial pay increases.

He identified ACC, Housing NZ and the Reserve Bank.

Mr Orr is tipped as the next governor of the Reserve Bank when Graeme Wheeler ends his term in September.

"I think it would be better to find a more stable process for these very significant appointments, there's always a bit of an unsatisfactory haggle and it may be better to set a level at the start," he said.

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