Ex-premiers angered by move to cut entitlements
Objections ... Nick Greiner. Photo: Quentin Jones
WEALTHY former premiers including Nick Greiner, now a key adviser to the O'Farrell government, objected to moves to take away their generous taxpayer-funded entitlements.
The government yesterday stopped short of slashing entitlements to former premiers Nick Greiner, Bob Carr and Neville Wran to avoid the threat of legal action.
The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, yesterday said he would reduce their combined entitlements by $500,000 from $1.6 million last year to $1.1 million in 2012-13.
Cuts ... Barry O'Farrell has angered former premiers by saying he would reduce combined entitlements by $500,000. Photo: AFP
But the Herald has learnt Mr O'Farrell wanted to go much further in slashing the entitlements because the former premiers have also received lucrative incomes in the private sector. Mr Carr was a former consultant to Macquarie Bank, Mr Greiner has held multiple company directorships and Mr Wran was a merchant banker.
But each has produced a letter guaranteeing their government entitlements for life. A senior government source said the former premiers ''highlighted the legal validity of those letters''.
The Herald understands Mr O'Farrell wanted to avoid potentially costly legal action and this had prevented him from cutting the entitlements more severely.
Bob Carr ... the state's longest continuous serving premier. Photo: Simon Schluter
''Each of the three former premiers have done very well in the business world. But we didn't want to enter legal action, that would have cost us more in the long run,'' the source said.
Mr Greiner refused to give up his taxpayer-funded Macquarie Street office after the government asked him to relocate to a cheaper one in a government building.
A spokesman for Mr O'Farrell yesterday said Mr Greiner would stay in his existing office but is now required to reimburse the Department of Premier and Cabinet for costs ''over and above'' those to be spent on offices for Mr Wran and Mr Carr.
In response to a freedom of information request, the Herald found the annual rent for Mr Greiner's 209.8-metre-square office was $136,101.72, compared to $96,102.69 for Mr Carr's 199.59-metre-square office.
Since resigning as premier in 1992, Mr Greiner has been a highly paid company director. He is chairman of Infrastructure NSW, which is tasked with recommending how the O'Farrell government should fix the state's road, rail and other infrastructure problems.
NSW taxpayers last year spent a total of $160,518.71 for Mr Greiner's office including electricity, cleaning and car parking. His staff cost an extra $213,593.63. He also claimed $5223.86 in domestic airfares as part of $90,764.64 in additional operating expenses.
The state's longest continuous serving premier, Mr Carr, was a highly paid consultant to Macquarie Bank before taking up a casual Senate vacancy and the position as Minister of Foreign Affairs earlier this year.
In 2010-11, he spent a total of $298,224.08, compared to Mr Greiner's $464,876.98.
Mr Carr spent $116,879.74 on accommodation costs for his office, $121,564.71 on staff and $4988.19 on domestic airfares. He also spent $2646.13 on photocopier charges compared to $214.29 spent by Mr Greiner.
Mr Carr's entitlements are suspended for as long as he serves in the federal Parliament but will be restored if he leaves that office.
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