Parky returns fire: PM&C did not give executives 12% pay rise

By Harley Dennett

September 12, 2017

A “wildly inaccurate” media report last week (not by us, thankfully) claimed senior executive salaries in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet were skyrocketing, “six times the level of average Australians as wage growth slumps to its lowest level in history.”

But the claim was based on a mistake, according to PM&C. Two individual senior executive pay increases, linked to performance bonuses, were extrapolated as an SES-wide pay rise of 12%.

The newspaper would probably disagree, and point to the phrase “up to” in its headline and opening sentence.

“The vast majority of our senior executives received an average pay increase of 2% on the 28th of January 2016,” the department responded. The majority of staff will receive a 5.9% pay rise under the new enterprise agreement.

Bypassing the media gatekeepers

Canberra’s public sector community has been increasingly biting back against media mistakes that impinge on its reputation. Of course mistakes happen — newsroom workforces have been devastated by falling industry revenue.

Mike Pezzullo, John Lloyd and Martin Parkinson have been the most pugnacious with inaccurate media reports in recent years, each using their organisation news alerts to get bypass editors who won’t run corrections. Pezzullo picked up the practice from Defence, which has long run an “on the record” feed of corrections.

There was buzz around town late last month when public sector researcher Dr Gemma Carey fumed on Twitter about a research paper she co-authored being misconstrued in an article. The series of tweets urged researchers to unfollow those responsible. Several ex public servants contacted The Mandarin to say that it was the kind of push-back they wish they’d been able to make while in the APS.

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