Paekākāriki’s Adrian Webster, who died with his wife Marei last week, worked diligently to the end – and one of his last letters has a key message for Kāpiti people.
Adrian, who was Community Board chair, looks at the row over the huge salary increases for CEO’s like Pat Dougherty of the KCDC and explains why these are being paid by public bodies.
In a letter to the Listener published the same week he died, Mr Webster explains how 30 years ago public sector wages were regulated. At that time, he says, a department head was paid only three or four times as much as a basic grader.
Thatcher’s monetarism takes over
Then, under Lange’s first Labour Government in the 1980’s, ‘Thatcher monetarism’ took over.
He asks: “How did this happen?
“ In 1986, most of David Lange’s Cabinet were captured by the Thatcherite monetarism promoted by Treasury and the Business Roundtable.
“The State-Owned Enterprises Act was passed that year and shattered the regulation of state salaries by empowering each SOE Chief Executives to set employees pay and conditions.”
Chief Executives’ salaries were fixed by each SOE board of governors which, predominantly drawn from the private sector, gave CEO’s higher pay levels in line with the market.”
Mr Webster also explains how the 1988 State Sector Act deregulated departmental salaries — and departments began competing for skilled staff by bidding up pay levels. Then, he says, this spread to local government.
Adrian’s answer to the problem
Then Adrian Webster comes up in characteristic style with a solution:
“The remedy for this,” he says, “is to fix the pay system.”
And in what is clearly a reference to the Kāpiti Council’s problem*, he concludes: “If an individual council stopped awarding pay increases, it would see its best and brightest poached by others.”
*The KCDC sparked a huge public row recently when it awarded CEO Pat Dougherty a $44,000 pay rise, against a background of a Council budget over-spend in Otaki — and big cost increases for other projects in the pipeline.