Mike Baird is joining NAB as chief customer officer for the bank’s corporate and institutional banking unit.
“I DON’T get a pension.” That was how Mike Baird yesterday explained why, just one month after quitting as NSW premier for “family reasons”, he has taken a $1 million-plus-a-year job with National Australia Bank.
The NAB announced yesterday that Mr Baird would become the bank’s new chief customer officer.
He is believed to have a base salary of more than $1 million but with bonuses, he could earn as much as $2 million a year, a massive increase on his $358,000 premier’s salary.
And it will cost taxpayers about half of Mr Baird’s new annual salary to hold the by-election in his seat of Manly in a few weeks’ time — with the NSW Electoral Commission putting the cost of a return to the polls at $750,000.
Defending his decision to leave parliament midterm, Mr Baird yesterday said that he would not have had the same “energy” as a new MP.
“To be the premier of the state and then to stand down and become a local member, I don’t think you can give your best,” he said.
When he resigned on January 19 Mr Baird said it was due to his father’s, mother’s and sister’s ill health.
He said his new job, which he begins in April, would involve some “global responsibility” — meaning international travel — but that he would see more of his family at night and on weekends and that there would be less “public scrutiny”.
“I was in banking for 17 years but I was determined to make a difference in public life,” he said.
“I went in (to politics) for 10 years; three years as treasurer and three as premier. (At the end) I thought I had achieved far more than I thought I could.
“On a personal basis the 24-7 public scrutiny that came with the role had a big impact on the family (and it was) time to spend time with them, but I needed to get a job.
“I don’t get a (parliamentary) pension. I don’t get any contribution from the taxpayer.”
Because he entered politics in 2007 Mr Baird misses out on the generous former politicians’ pension scheme and receives only the 9.5 per cent in superannuation, which he can access at retirement age like the rest of the population.
He said he would not be doing any lobbying at NAB, which allowed him to take the job before an 18-month cooling-off period required in the ministerial code of conduct.
“I have spoken to the parliamentary ethics adviser. He has agreed there’s (no barrier),” Mr Baird said.
FAITHFUL FRIEND TICKED ALL THE BOXES
FIFTEEN years ago on the pews of Manly’s St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Mike Baird discovered a kindred spirit in NAB boss Andrew Thorburn.
“I thought, ‘Here’s another friendly banker in the congregation’. That was good. We had our own little corner,” Mr Thorburn said yesterday after announcing Mr Baird’s recruitment as NAB’s head of corporate and institutional banking, dealing with the bank’s biggest business customers, including BHP and Myer.
“I didn’t know Mike but we had similar interests and were of similar age and we struck up a bit of a friendship,” Mr Thorburn said.
But he won’t say whether that meant he voted for Mr Baird in their northern beaches electorate in 2007.
“I hope he did,” Mr Baird said yesterday.
Mr Thorburn did, however, say that he admired Mr Baird’s leap of faith in leaving a flourishing career in banking to join politics.
They no longer share the same congregation but both are still committed Christians.
Mr Baird contemplated religious service as a young man and Mr Thorburn has said of his faith: “It’s something I have come to believe and it’s changed me”.
Asked whether this spiritual connection helped decide this was the job for him among what is believed to be a dozen offers, Mr Baird said the NAB role ticked all the right boxes.
“I respect Andrew as a leader and the values and the vision that he had. I couldn’t just work for anyone, there is no doubt about that,” Mr Baird said.