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Ex-Labor leader is new icare board chair

Former union boss and NSW Labor leader John Robertson has been appointed to lead icare as part of overhaul of the scandal-ridden insurance agency’s board.

Mr Robertson, the chief operating officer of FoodBank, will replace current chair of the board Michael Carapiet when his term ends on September 25.

icare is an employer-funded workers’ insurer, owned by the state and overseen by the NSW treasurer, but independent from government. It was one of three organisations that replaced WorkCover in 2015.

Mr Robertson takes the helm amid a period of growing scrutiny and concern over the agency’s operations.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet came under fire earlier this year after reports of poor financial management and staffing issues with the agency, and again after it was revealed that two icare-paid ministerial staffers had been recruited to work on secondment in his office.

This week, the Labor Party upped its pressure on Mr Perrottet over the agency’s dealings, calling for him to sack the entire board over its extensive links to the Liberal Party.

“John’s appointment is a big boost for icare, and marks a significant change at what is a crucial time for the organisation,” Mr Perrottet said in a statement announcing the appointment on Wednesday.

“He is widely respected in the community, with extensive experience in politics, the union movement, workers’ compensation, business.”

Mr Perrottet says the retirement of Mr Carapiet and deputy chair Gavin Bell, combined with the recent resignation of Mark Lennon and the fast approaching end of term for several other board members in February, would ensure a major renewal.

“This represents the biggest change for icare since it was created in 2015,” Mr Perrottet said.

Among Mr Robertson’s top priorities are a refresh of the icare board and the recruitment of a new CEO, improving return to work rates, and managing the repayment of injured workers.

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