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icare CEO John Nagle resigns after inquiry hearing

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John Nagle has departed as CEO of NSW state insurer icare after a Parliamentary committee grilling yesterday over his approach to conflicts of interest and the performance of the organisation.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said he was informed last night by icare Chairman Michael Carapiet that Mr Nagle had resigned.

“I understand Mr Nagle has informed the board that his decision to leave icare was a difficult one, but he felt the ongoing focus on a range of issues concerning the organisation was adversely impacting the important role it plays in administering the workers’ compensation scheme in NSW,” Mr Perrottet said.

Mr Nagle has been a key executive at icare since it formed in 2015, taking over the top job in January 2018 on an interim basis before becoming CEO later that year. Previously he was Lumley Insurance CEO, Suncorp EGM corporate and specialty and Vero COO retail.

The NSW Parliamentary workers’ compensation inquiry yesterday heard Mr Nagle had intended to resign in July last year after he was sanctioned by the board over inadequate disclosures regarding his wife’s employment at icare as a training contractor.

“I was extremely unhappy at the treatment, feeling that I had disclosed, and it had been a well-known issue,” Mr Nagle said. The chairman asked him to reconsider resigning and he remained with the insurer, he told the hearing.

Mr Nagle, who lost his financial year short-term incentive bonus as a penalty, said by the time the issue was raised his wife’s contract had ended. She had been appointed before he was CEO, but in an area that fell under his auspices, and he had told executives at that time.

The inquiry questioned Mr Nagle over tendering for contracts awarded as part of a transformation of the Nominal Insurer scheme, and queried a paid-for trip he later received to speak at a Guidewire conference in Las Vegas that was not disclosed in the annual report.

Mr Nagle rejected suggestions there was anything wrong with taking the trip, or that there were any issues with the process that led to services provider EML employing consultants The Bridge International to help resolve problems.

“The absurdity of what you are putting is just flabbergasting,” he said. “I really find it quite offensive to be honest.”

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), which has raised concerns over icare’s financial and non-financial performance, also appeared before the committee yesterday.

CEO Carmel Donnelly criticised icare’s lack of progress on key recommendations made to improve performance following an independent review released last year.

Ms Donnelly said icare should change the way it measures return-to-work targets to reflect people actually going back into a workplace, rather than the cessation of benefits, and called for more action on the appointment of case managers.

Ms Donnelly also said icare needed to complete a governance and culture review, and she was concerned by Mr Nagle’s reference to a “culture of complaint” when asked by an ABC Four Corners and The Age/Sydney Morning Herald investigation about matters referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

“Let’s be clear, a person who raises an issue that may be suspected corruption is a whistleblower. It is not a ‘culture of complaint’,” she said.

“I am concerned for the people in icare, who may feel that to speak up about a problem they are going to be labelled as part of a ‘culture of complaint’, and I am concerned that this assessment of the culture has not yet happened.”

icare chairman Michael Carapiet said today that Mr Nagle was a highly experienced executive who was pivotal to icare’s formation, and who led the transformation from an adversarial workers’ compensation scheme to one that operated with a commercial mind and a social heart.

“John was central in driving the vast change across all of icare’s schemes and had an unwavering dedication to improving customer outcomes,” he said. “While we are saddened to see him go, we understand his decision and wish him best in his future endeavours.”

Mr Nagle says leading the transformation of icare was one of the most challenging and rewarding times of his career.

“I am glad to see the benefits now starting to be realised,” he said.