(L-R) Steffen Faurby, Gladys Berejiklian and Barry O'Farrell. Sydney Ferries is now under new private ownership. Harbour city ferries is a joint partnership between leading transport operators Transfield Services and Veolia Transdev Australia. Today is the first day of operation. Pic: Mitch Cameron
(L-R) Steffen Faurby, Gladys Berejiklian and Barry O'Farrell. Sydney Ferries is now under new private ownership. Harbour city ferries is a joint partnership between leading transport operators Transfield Services and Veolia Transdev Australia. Today is the first day of operation. Pic: Mitch Cameron

Meet the bureaucrat paid more than the premier

The incoming head of TAFE NSW will be paid more than half-a-million dollars after Premier Gladys Berejiklian personally intervened to secure him a salary well above the managing director's pay scale.

Steffen Faurby will walk into the top job on Monday and take home $575,000 a year - a salary higher than the premier's own pay packet of $407,980.

The fat pay-check is well above the pay scale of between $345,551 and $487,050 normally paid to TAFE NSW's top boss after Ms Berejiklian directed the Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Tribunal to make an exception.

Steffen Faurby with Gladys Berejiklian when he was head of Sydney Ferries. Photo: Mitch Cameron
Steffen Faurby with Gladys Berejiklian when he was head of Sydney Ferries. Photo: Mitch Cameron

"The tribunal is advised that Mr Faurby was selected following a competitive recruitment process and demonstrated that he is a high quality candidate with superior transformational and relationship building skills," a report on the tribunal's decision read.

"Having regard to the particular circumstances of the case the tribunal is of the view that the remuneration package for Mr Faurby in the role of managing director will be $575,000 per annum."

The tribunal sets government department executive salaries annually, but these can be altered at the specific direction of a minister.

Australian Taxpayers' Alliance executive director Brian Marlow said the high salary did not "make any sense".

Faurby was head of the State Transit Authority in 2017. Photo: Adam Yip
Faurby was head of the State Transit Authority in 2017. Photo: Adam Yip

"The age-old trick of just throwing more money at the education system isn't working and throwing more money at the head of TAFE isn't actually going to do anything," he said.

"It doesn't make any sense, especially considering education results, considering all the money we're throwing at education, our results are going down, throwing more money at it isn't fixing it."

Mr Faurby's LinkedIn profile describes him as a "people oriented CEO". He has never studied at TAFE, but has degrees from Macquarie University, Copenhagen University and the Engineering College of Aarhus University in Denmark.

He was State Transit Authority chief from 2017 and before that headed up Sydney Ferries. That was privatised in 2012 and STA's bus network is expected to be completely privatised within two years.

Opposition spokesman for Skills and TAFE says the paycheck is ‘extraordinary’.
Opposition spokesman for Skills and TAFE says the paycheck is ‘extraordinary’.

Labor spokesman for Skills and TAFE Jihad Dib said Mr Faurby's salary was "an extraordinary amount of money" and was concerned the government was sending him in to privatise TAFE.

"What guarantee have we got that he hasn't been sent in with a mission to privatise TAFE … he is like the tsar of privatisation for the government," Mr Dib said.

A government spokeswoman said Mr Faurby's salary was commensurate with his experience and said there were no plans to privatise TAFE.