Tuesday, 05 March 2019 10:38

A nice little earner

Written by 
Landcorp chief executive Steve Carden. Landcorp chief executive Steve Carden.

Landcorp is paying members of its contentious environmental reference group (ERG) $1500 a day each – far more than other government body payments.

This has been revealed in answers to an Official Information Act (OIA) request by Rural News to the Government-owned farmer (trading as Pāmu Farms).

“Each ERG member and the chairman is paid a flat fee of $1500 per day they attend the ERG meeting,” Landcorp’s OIA response says. “In addition, the chair is paid an hourly rate for meeting preparation.”

During the 2017-2018 year, the state farmer also paid $2740.11 in travel costs and another $2451.43 in accommodating out-of-town ERG members for the four meetings it held in Wellington.

Landcorp set up the ERG in 2015 after protests about the state-owned farmer’s Wairakei Estates forestry-to-dairy farm conversions north of Taupo. 

Its members over the years have included several high-profile farming critics, including two controversial environmentalists – freshwater ecologist Dr Mike Joy, farming critic and now Landcorp’s head of environmental; and former Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson.

Current members of ERG include outspoken freshwater campaigner Marnie Prickett who also chairs the committee, Forest and Bird campaigner Anna-Beth Cohen, earth systems scientist and Māori specialist Dr Daniel Hikuroa, well-known ecologist Guy Salmon and the ubiquitous Mike Joy.

Meanwhile, it looks like members of Landcorp’s ERG are on a pretty good wicket at $1500-a-day, compared with other Government-paid bodies. Members of the Primary Sector Council are paid $500 a day, with chair Lain Jager earning $800 a day. The Tax Working Group members earned $800 a day and chair Sir Michael Cullen earned $1000 a day.

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