Federal agency takes on The Australian over executive pay

Airservices Australia maintains its reputation is being dragged through the mud and that information about executive remuneration from its annual report is being misrepresented. The stakes are not trivial; a Senate inquiry into the agency’s performance remains ongoing.

Airservices Australia has taken on one of the nation’s most influential newspapers over a series of recent articles suggesting its senior staff received unusually large payrises and bonuses in recent years.

In two letters to The Australian editor Clive Mathieson, the air traffic control agency’s executive general manager of corporate and industry affairs, Mairi Barton, has accused the newspaper of repeatedly making false claims. She says the journalists misread the organisation’s annual report.

Barton maintains it is inaccurate and misleading for The Australian to report the agency’s “salary pool” for executives had grown by more than 40% to nearly $4 million last finan­cial year, and that a “bonus pool” had grown by 60% to almost $800,000.

The claim was first made in a June 15 article, and Barton says Airservices Australia advised the journalist that it was incorrect in the agency’s view, prior to publication. In her first letter she said the average increase to senior executive remuneration was 2.25% in the period in question, between 2012-13 and 2013-14, and added:

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.