Merry-go-round

Merry-go-round

Suppose you are a smart person with considerable experience of the world. You have worked hard and sacrificed much for a stellar career that now has you among the CEO ranks. One of your rewards is a seven figure a year salary that puts you just shy of the top 250 CEO earners on 2014 numbers.

In a most peculiar turn of events in 2016, you go from being the CEO of a global environmental consulting firm to running a major power corporation and then, just six months later, you take over as head of the largest a private health fund in the country.

Not in a million years. Such career shifts are impossible in the real world. Consulting firm to energy company maybe. Even energy company to health fund is possible. But not from environment to industry to health in six months. Impossible.

Such career shifts are impossible in the real world. Consulting firm to energy company maybe. Even energy company to health fund is possible. But not from environment to industry to health in six months. Impossible.

Impossible.

Unless of course, you are a minister in the Australian federal government. Then you can make the change from Environment minister to Industry minister to Health minister in a jiffy. In your latest incarnation at health, you are responsible for a $65 billion portfolio. Quite some responsibility.

Somewhat surprisingly, your annual remuneration for handling the health of the nation is just $330,000 plus some expenses — but you have to be very careful indeed not to abuse any entitlements.

I’m not sure what is more bizarre. The merry-go-round of ministers running around the cabinet room and putting their bums down on the nearest chair when to music stops. Or the fact that they are paid such a pittance to take on huge financial and, dare I say moral responsibility.

Professor John Rice, writing in The Conversation, is optimistic that some positive policy settings can survive a similar revolving door of ministers in the science portfolio.  He may be right if all the newest minister has to do is keep on the innovation course and maintain the finding. Only it never is quite so simple.

The analogy with commercial firms is not a trivial one. CEOs steer their ships through turbulent waters towards profit. Shareholders demand that they do this wisely and the law protects their interests from incompetence as well as malfeasance. Rarely will the CEO survive without relevant experience and at least some knowledge.

Why should ministers be any different? It is just as important that they have at least some topic skills and experience in their portfolio even though their remuneration seems not to depend on it.


Monkeys like peanuts — more on CEO salaries

One thought on “Merry-go-round

  1. Pingback: Disillusioned with politics | Alloporus

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