Commission in wake up call on "Golden Parachutes"
Australian big business needs an urgent "reality check" following the latest in an increasing number of large termination and resignation payouts to executives, according to Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
Executive Officer Peter Arndt issued the call in the wake of last week's resignation of National Australia Bank's Chief Executive, Frank Cicutto.
Mr Chicutto resigned his position after a foreign trading exchange scandal cost the bank over $300 million. It is reported he was given a "golden parachute" of payouts and benefits that some estimates put at $14 million.
"You can understand the anger of average Australians who do not get the same treatment if they get the sack or have to resign because their performance is not up to scratch," Mr Arndt said.
Insisting that Australians should maintain an attitude of Christian charity towards Mr Cicutto for whatever failures he may be responsible for, Mr Arndt said Australian companies should take a long hard look at what they are paying their executives in salary packages and termination and resignation payments.
"Many Australian executives have salary packages which are out of all proportion with what average Australians get," he said.
Mr Arndt said greater restrictions on executive salary packages need to be put in place and that the Federal Government should look at removing taxation loophole which provide both companies and their executives unfair tax advantages.
"There have been some changes recently which are good signs, but much more needs to be done to tighten things up," Mr Arndt said
"When there aren't enough tax revenues available to provide good health care and other essential services to people on low incomes, our country should not be allowing big business to get unfair tax advantages," he said.
Mr Arndt suggested that a bigger share of the cake should be going to the workers at the bottom of the ranks," Mr Arndt said.
"They are people who are just as indispensable in a firm as the chief executive and they and their families need better pay to live with some dignity," he said.
"This has been a consistent message when the Popes since Leo XII in 1891 have started talking about the pay and conditions of workers," he added.
Australian Business Needs "Reality Check" on "Golden Parachutes" (Catholic Justice & Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Brisbane 9/2/04)
Cicutto jumps with $3.27m golden parachute (Sydney Morning Herald 2/2/04)
Golden Parachutes (The Corporate Library)
The 43 execs on $3million-plus (crikey.com.au)
Regional Wage and Salary Earner Statistics, Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics)
High Executive Salaries Do Not Deliver Value For Money (Australian Council of Trade Unions 23/5/03)
Frank Cicutto's great AMP stuff-up (crikey.com.au)
Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labour)
National Australia Bank: Key Executives
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission
9 Feb 2004