The Meeting Place

Who is Australia’s highest paid CEO?

Royal Commission proceedings and declining public trust failed to dampen executive bonuses last year, with more than half of ASX100 CEOs receiving at least 70 per cent of their maximum entitlement, according to the latest analysis of CEO pay by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI).

ACSI chief executive Louise Davidson said, “The way bonuses are being handed out suggests there is a culture of entitlement whereby supposedly ‘at risk’ pay is not very risky at all.

“These payments occurred in a year when the Royal Commission was in full swing, revealing evidence that executives were not being held accountable for poor conduct, and in the wake of soaring ‘first strike’ votes against remuneration reports.

“Clearly, corporate Australia is not getting the message that bonus payments should be variable and awarded for stretch performance, rather than being fixed pay under another name. This is a failure of both discipline and leadership.”

ACSI’s research lends weight to APRA’s recent observation that, “there has been an absence of significant downwards adjustment to remuneration at executive level”,1 and highlights the fact that these issues extend well beyond the financial services sector.

Here are the top ten highest-paid CEOs, according to ACSI, based on realised pay in the 2018 financial year:

  1. Alan Joyce, Qantas Airways ($23,876,351)
  2. Nicholas Moore, Macquarie Group ($23,855,580)
  3. Michael Clarke, Treasury Wine Estates ($19,024,334)
  4. Bob Vassie, St Barbara ($13,246,088)
  5. Craig Scroggie, Next DC ($12,515,914)
  6. Sandeep Biswas, Newcrest Mining ($12,083,392)
  7. Brian Benari, Challenger Group ($11,696,001)
  8. Raleigh Finlayson, Saracen Mineral Holdings ($11,284,256)
  9. Andrew Bassat, Seek ($10,744,472)
  10. Colin Goldschmidt, Sonic Healthcare ($10,017,376).


What do you think of this level of remuneration? Should more be done to reign in executive salaries?


These people are making too much money, I can see a revolution brewing. Actually that's how the Russian revolution exploded. The peasants, me included, are fed up with eating black bread and watered down cider while the few at the top gorge themelves on caviar and champagne. 

Reduce their salaries and there would be more jobs around making everything much more productive all around. A CAP on the highest salary is necessary. 

The basis upon which these CEO's qualify for such outrageous bonuses needs to be looked at in a critical manner. Too often they are based upon share price which can, and has in the past, raised a conflict of interest.

The stock markets tends to react farourably to a reduction in the work force of a company. The share price rises the CEO's bonus increases. The point being that the reduction in the work force may not actually be in the company's best interests but it certainly is in the CEO's.

An example of this happened in the U.S. years ago when Chrysler Corporation got this hotshot CEO who earned huge bonuses because the share price increased so much due to the staff reductions he instigated. He was head hunted by another company before reality set in and Chrysler almost went to the wall because of the damage done to them. He did at his next company as well before people woke up to what was really happening. 

Bonuses can. and often do, distort the emphasis applied to running a company. Shareholders generally want a decent return but above all want security of their investment. Qantas for example are losing customers and I wonder why?


Be interesting to compare these figures against the profitability (or otherwise) of the companies they manage, as well as reviewing the fundamentals of these companies (customer and employee satisfaction etc)

I agree with anyone who says CEO salaries are outrageous. The myth behind this is, CEOs need high pay in order to motivate them. Well, in my opinion if a person is largely motivated by a huge salary, then they are there only for the money. I would like to see how it really benefits shareholdlers. Besides a CEO does not do all the work himself/herself..there are Board members who do a fair share.

In some companies, the CEO also serves as Chairman..good work if you can get it because executive pay is decided by a Corporate Board. What that means is the CEO/Chairman votes on their own salary..clearly this is a conflict of interest.

According to the Global CEO index these countries have the highest paid CEOs .. US, Switzerland, Netherlands, UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, Spain, Hong Kong and Singapore.

I knew this subject would be raised. I saw the news report on this a couple of nights ago on the tv, and I thought then, somebodies got to get it so why not him.

I bare no envy toward him and hope it brings him happiness. I shall continue with my life and leave him in peace to his.

Somebody doesn't have to get that sort of money and envy doesn't come into it. The issue is why do they get paid so much for doing what is their job.

It is really a matter of fairness across the board.

I agree with Tankers comments. When we are made aware of these outrageous salaries and compare them with the many ways governments screw pensioners e.g. deeming my mind boggles.

Your comment is refreshing, Polly! Hopefully, they give a lot to charity. Some super wealthy people do. They have the opportunity to do so much good with their wealth that most of us cannot. 

I feel the same way about politicians. Whilst everyone else is going on about their pay I think okay we want great people in that job and we need to pay them properly otherwise they might as well go to private enterprise where their pay would be much higher.

Best not to judge as we do not know their business. 



Polly Esther and Paddinton you're not Irish by any chance are you?

Sorry Polly and Paddington, I don’t agree with your thinking.  If obvious inequalities were not challenged over the years we’d still have children going up chimneys or into mines at the age of six so bosses could reap more profits by paying less or nothing.

We’d still have women being paid 50% less than a man whilst doing the same job.

As for politicians being great at their jobs we are only allowed to vote for candidates the parties have endorsed to keep themselves in power, nothing to do with how good they will be at that job.

I'm not sure which country you live in Triss but here in Australia all of us are allowed to vote for the person we think will do a good job for us. We can choose to vote for the candidate of a major party who is endorsed by the party or we can vote for a candidate from a minor party or we can vote for an Independent who is not aligned to any party. Here in Australia we call that Democracy.

That’s what I’m saying, Horace Cope, half a dozen or more people in an electorate decide they will run for parliament but the party decides which candidate it will endorse. That’s the one you will have to vote for if you vote for that party not one of the rejected ones who might be better for Australians. Yes, it’s slightly different with the independents.

Well Triss if you choose to vote for a particular party then you have to accept who the party tells you who to vote for. That's not really exercising your choice for a person, that's voting for a party. I always vote for the person who I think will stand up for my electorate, not for a party where a candidate puts the party first, not us voters.

You’ve missed the point, Horace, I was giving you an example not my method of voting.  Never mind, let’s forget it.

Perhaps we are targetting the wrong people. For a start, a lot of CEO's are headhunted and offers are made to attract them to a company because of their track record. Contracts are written and accepted and are usually based on performance with a bonus offered when budgets are exceeded. Sure, we already know all of this but the question is, who draws up the contract. It's the legal people at the request of the Board, not the CEO, so any remuneration that us poor people think is excessive is because the Board made a mistake, not the CEO for agreeing to a contract.

Really - just how much money do you NEED to live comfortably on? Nearly 24 MILLION a year? - ludicrous!

I would love to know how much - if any - of these CEO's tax is paid? I can guarantee very little. They can afford to set up trusts and pay accountants/solicitors to reduce any liability. 

I can't remember where I saw/heard/read, but was said that CEO's salary's should be no more than 8 times the salary of the lowest paid employee in the company. AT THE MOST - no more than 10 times.  So if lowest Qantas staff are on $50,000 (and that is being generous) - then $5 million would be ample. Nearly $24 million? - sickening, obscene and disgusting.

Totally agree with you, sunnyOz.

What is really outrages is the envy of people when they learn that other people make millions from honest management of corporations. It's shareholder's business, not the outside public's. If shareholders don't like it because they want more in dividents for themselves then they can vote on the issue at AGMs.  These CEOs pay their tax on the income they earn and if the majority of the income is from bonuses by way of company fully franked shares then the corporations pay tax.  So any public outrage is just sheer immature envy. Go get a life people!!!!