“Some of these statutory bodies, you’re giving them a subvention and their salaries gone through the roof. They double the salary,” Premier Wheatley said while speaking in the House of Assembly (HOA) recently. “Some of them hire too many people. They come grossly overstaffed, top heavy.”
The Premier added: “So, we also have to demand that these statutory bodies, especially those which are receiving a subvention, give value for money for taxpayers’ dollars.”
“Some of them who are out of control; we have to get them back in control… Just because you’re a statutory body in my view doesn’t justify some of the exorbitant — sometimes — salaries, exorbitant benefits,” Dr Wheatley stated.
And even as he drew a contrast between civil servants’ salaries and the salaries paid to the staff of statutory bodies, Premier Wheatley said while he wasn’t saying that civil servants’ salaries shouldn’t be reviewed, the disparity between the two classes of workers’ compensation is just too wide.
“We have to do better with the civil servants and perhaps we got to pull back on the statutory bodies a bit,” the Premier argued.
Meanwhile, Premier Wheatley said it was important to put statutory boards in place which are comprised of competent persons and of persons who recognise their responsibility to the public.
“Remember now, you’re being appointed by Cabinet. You’re being appointed by ministers who are elected to the people. So you can’t get there and forget how you got there as though you put yourself there and then you start to do what you want, and nobody can’t say a word to you. No, that can’t work,” the Premier said.
He continued: “So, you have to be competent, you have to have a vision, but you [also] have to recognise how you got there. The minister who put you there and the Cabinet, who put you there, are accountable to the people and you have to be able to hear the cries of the people.”
As part of the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) reforms, the territory is currently undergoing a review of all statutory boards to determine, among other things, the extent to which those boards are applying policies intended to promote good governance such as conflict-of-interest policy and a political interference policy.
Further to this, the review is also expected to establish the extent to which statutory boards follow a due diligence policy and what steps need to be taken to remedy any deficiencies and the time scale in which the steps should be accomplished.