Government hires retired AG, former Tory candidate for $140K
John Noseworthy — File photo
Former PC party candidate and retired auditor general John Noseworthy is going back to work for the provincial government.
Noseworthy was hired without competition by the Department of Advanced Education and Skills — at a salary of $140,000.
Advanced Education and Skills Minister Joan Burke said the department didn’t advertise the position, and hired Noseworthy outright because they were looking for a very specific set of skills.
“It was a certain skill level that we wanted for this job,” Burke said.
“It’s going to be a job that’s going to entail a lot of work, and despite the fact that he was a candidate, it’s the skills and the expertise that I’m really looking forward to having at that level to help us with our change.”
Noseworthy announced his retirement as auditor general nearly a year before his 10-year term was up.
Shortly after leaving the job, he jumped into politics, running for the PC party in the district of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi in the Oct. 11 provincial election against NDP Leader Lorraine Michael.
Last week, Finance Minister Tom Marshall quietly tabled documents in the House of Assembly indicating Noseworthy would be hired to do a “Business Development Project” for the Department of Advanced Education and Skills.
“Always interesting when a failed Tory candidate gets a public service job with no competition, you know, only four months after the election,” Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons said. “How can you not question the optics of it?”
Noseworthy declined to speak to The Telegram.
Burke explained she needed someone to help her make the department run efficiently.
Advanced Education and Skills was a marriage of the old Human Resources, Labour nd Employment department, plus the post secondary education portion of the old Education Department.
The new department was created in October as part of the post-election cabinet shuffle.
“Although it’s existing divisions that came together, we’re still a new department, and what we need to do is we need to do a comprehensive transformation plan,” Burke said. “We need to make sure now that as we come together, all the policies, the programs and the services are streamlined so that they can meet the needs of the growing labour market demands.”
At first, Burke said she didn’t think she would need to hire somebody like Noseworthy, but as things went along, it was clear it would be useful to have someone to help smooth out some of the kinks.
“As I started moving though the process of change, I identified that this additional support was something that would be very helpful,” she said. “As I started moving through the change process, this was a skill that I thought would be very helpful — so it wasn’t necessarily the plan from Day 1.”
All of this comes at a time, Parsons said, when the government is looking to find three per cent budget cuts in all departments.
Parsons didn’t question the need for somebody to do the job Noseworthy was hired to do, and he didn’t question Noseworthy’s qualifications.
“No doubt they’ve got a department created that’s a bit topsy-turvey,” he said. “If they’re going to hire someone to do it, go about it with some competition like most people get hired for the public service.”
Parsons said there’s an irony in the current situation, because in his old role as auditor general, Noseworthy was responsible for calling government out for misspending.
“John Noseworthy, if he was still the auditor general and this was going on, he would be out speaking out about it,” Parsons said.
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