Australia

NSW Parliamentary inquiry extended to force icare board to appear

The board of besieged public insurer icare will be forced to appear before a NSW parliamentary inquiry after it was extended in order to hear evidence from its chairman.

The inquiry will hold an extra third day of hearings on August 24 to question icare chairman Michael Carapiet, a former Macquarie Group investment banker and long-time Liberal Party donor, and State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) chairman Trevor Matthews.

Icare chairman Michael Carapiet will be called to give evidence at a parliamentary inquiry.

Icare chairman Michael Carapiet will be called to give evidence at a parliamentary inquiry. Credit:Peter Braig

Witnesses can be subpoenaed to appear before the inquiry if they refuse to turn up voluntarily.

Chief executive of icare John Nagle resigned from the agency late on Monday, just hours after appearing before the inquiry where it emerged he had failed to properly declare that his wife had been given a contract with the agency.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, the minister responsible for icare, told parliament on Tuesday that he had known about Ms Nagle's conflict of interest since February 2019.

It also emerged that Mr Nagle failed to declare in the agency's annual report business-class flights to Las Vegas to speak at a conference organised by software company Guidewire in October 2018.

Mr Perrottet admitted in parliament on Wednesday that he had known about the Las Vegas trip since May 2018, when it was detailed in a briefing note.

But he distanced himself from the issue, and said it was the board's responsibility to approve travel.

"As icare is a public financial corporation, all international travel is approved by the independent icare board and it's my expectation that all government businesses follow proper processes," Mr Perrottet said.

The inquiry heard Guidewire has received millions of dollars in contracts from icare to provide claims management software. Mr Nagle appears in a promotional video for Guidewire on the company's website.

Mr Shoebridge said if "Mr Perrottet was doing his job he would have known Mr Nagle had endorsed Guidewire just months before he went on trip to Las Vegas paid for by that same company."

"The same trip was never disclosed in the icare annual report. Again this failure lies directly with the Treasurer," Mr Shoebridge said.

Mr Shoebridge, who is on the parliamentary committee, said the inquiry needed to be extended because the issues plaguing the public insurer extended well beyond Mr Nagle.

"Clearly the problems with the system go well beyond any one executive, the entire icare board needs to be held accountable," Mr Shoebridge said.

"It’s essential that the icare board front the parliamentary inquiry and answer for the many failures of the organisation they were responsible for."

Labor MLC Daniel Mookhey said the committee would also ask the heads of icare's remuneration and risk committees to appear before the inquiry.

"We'd like to ask them what they did to stop icare sliding into scandal," Mr Mookhey said.

A joint investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and ABC's Four Corners revealed icare had underpaid as many as 52,000 injured workers by up to $80 million in compensation.

Icare has disputed the underpayment figures, saying its initial estimates have been revised down significantly and it estimates 5000 to 10,000 workers have been underpaid up to $10 million in tota

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