TasRacing $80k payment to former CEO under spotlight

Tasmanian Minister for Racing Jeremy Rockliff has been grilled about a $80,000 payment made to a former top TasRacing executive, despite him being with the company for less than two years.

According to TasRacing's 2017 annual report, former Chief Financial Officer and interim CEO Mark Tarring was paid $80,000 in "termination benefits" following his resignation in December 2016.

The payment was raised by Labor's Scott Bacon during question time on Wednesday.

"Given that the CEO made a choice to resign after less than two years, why was he entitled to an $80,000 bonus payment?" he asked.

The minister replied it was a matter for the TasRacing board.

In a statement, a TasRacing spokesman said the payment was referenced in the annual report as pay in lieu of notice and annual leave accrual.

Tarring served as Chief Financial Officer of TasRacing from February 2015 until August 2016, before moving into the role of interim CEO when Dr Eliot Forbes resigned.

His overall tenure with TasRacing lasted less than two years.

Racing industry figures have also questioned the $80,000 payment.

One industry source told the ABC that Mr Tarring had been told by members of the TasRacing board that he would be appointed CEO, and was shocked to learn the role had been given to Vaughn Lynch.

Sources said Mr Tarring originally handed in his resignation in early November 2016 upon learning of Lynch's appointment, but was convinced by Mr Rockliff to push the date back to late December so the minister could attend Estimates hearings early in that month.

CEOs 'entitled under their contracts'

On Wednesday, Labor targeted the precise figure that was paid.

"How can you possibly expect Tasmanians to believe annual leave entitlements came to exactly $80,000 and zero cents?" Mr Bacon asked.

"How is the outgoing CEO entitled to pay in lieu of notice, given it was his decision to resign?".

Mr Rockliff said Mr Tarring was entitled to $80,000 as per his contract.

"Resigning executives at the time of their departure were entitled to payments in accordance with their executive employment contract," he said.

"No additional payments or benefits were paid to existing executives."

The payment is one of only two significant termination benefit payments made within the past four years.

Mr Tarring's payment of $80,000 tops the figure of $59,969 that was paid to Gary Lottering upon his resignation in 2013.

Mr Lottering served as CEO for more than three years, and had previously held the role of Chief Racing Officer with the then-Government owned Tote Tasmania.

That payment was referenced as the accruing of annual and long service leave.

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