SACKED Finance Minister Greg Pearce’s hand-picked $300,000 a year WorkCover Review (WIRO) executive Kim Garling racked up a $15,000 taxpayer-funded bill on a trip to the US within months of taking the job – and has just two serious complaints to consider at present.
Greg Pearce WorkCover appointee Kim Garling racked up $15k on US trip
When WorkCover reforms passed government, crossbenchers negotiated that a WorkCover Independent Review Officer be set up and Mr Pearce infamously appointed his personal secretary’s husband, former Law Society president Mr Garling.
Of those, 50 matters are outstanding – only two of them “serious”.
Mr Garling, who was the centre of controversy after he immediately appointed Mr Pearce’s chief of staff Jo McCafferty’s husband Anthony Johnston as his acting Director of Information Technology – a temporary contract which has since ended – said in all his office had received 4000 calls since it was set up last September.
There is no suggestion either Mr Garling or Mr Johnston’s appointments were without merit.
From February 5 to 14, he admits, he travelled at taxpayer expense to the USA to visit the offices of the Workers Compensation Board in Los Angeles and the offices of Workers Compensation Ombudsmen in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas as well attending a meeting of the American Bar Association in Dallas
“The proposed travel was approved by the then Minister,” Mr Garling said.
The cost of the trip was $15,255.25 – $8753.74 for the business class airfare and $6519.51 on internal flights, taxis, accommodation and per diem allowance.
Mr Garling said the more than 4000 calls to 13WIRO workers compensation complaints line between October 2, 2012, and June 30, 2013 “range from matters which my office is able to answer quickly to matters of more serious concern about either the systems or the conduct of insurers”.
“These may also involve information being received from injured workers by way of email with further information to assist with the review of the matters of concern,” he said.
“Of those contacts my office has been able to obtain prompt responses (generally within 48 hours) from the insurers, who have been very co-operative in seeking solutions to the matters of concern.
“Of those contacts the Complaints Division considered about 350 as requiring further consideration.
“Most of these matters have been closed however as at 30 June 2013 there were about 50 matters still to be finalised.
“I regard two of them as being in the serious category.”
Mr Garling, in answering questions about his travel, said he had also “travelled to Melbourne at the invitation of the Personal Injury Education Foundation to deliver a paper on the operation of the WIRO.”
A spokesman for Mr Pearce’s replacement, Finance Minister Andrew Constance, said: “I’ll be meeting with Mr Garling to discuss a number of issues.”
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