SEE ALSO UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE REPORT.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
Damien Ryan (pictured) is making more money from serving on government boards than he is paid to be the Mayor of Alice Springs.
Mayor Ryan, who gets $100,000 a year for heading up the Alice Springs Town Council, until recently chaired the Central Australian Hospital Network Governing Council (CAHNGC).
The Department of the Chief Minister is publishing on the government website that under the Remuneration and Other Entitlements Act, that position pays $82,363 a year.
Together with Mr Ryan’s other public-purse remunerations, from the Local Government Association ($12,000) and about $8000 from the NT Grants Commission, he seems to be making some $2000 more from government sources than he is getting as Mayor.
It appears that the CAHNGC position has now been replaced by the Central Australia Health Service (CAHS). It started yesterday, Health Minister Robyn Lambley announced, and Mayor Ryan is the chairman.
“The Central Australia Health Service board led by chair Damien Ryan will manage the Tennant Creek and Alice Springs hospitals and other health care services,” says Ms Lambley in her media release. There is a corresponding board in the Top End.
“The Boards will report to me about a range of matters, including the health priorities of the communities for whom they serve,” says Ms Lambley.
The media release quotes Mayor Ryan as saying “feedback had confirmed that the community would receive a closer connection with public health services, and service delivery would increasingly reflect the needs of the people in Central Australia.
“The CAHS Board is acutely aware there are many challenges such as the burden of chronic disease, mental health issues, provision of quality hospital care and comprehensive primary health care and attracting and retaining a skilled workforce across Central Australia,” Mayor Ryan is quoted. “We look forward to a strong collaborative partnership with the Department of Health.”
Despite several emails and phone calls the Alice Springs News Online has not been told what his new remuneration is – not by the government nor by Mayor Ryan.
The issue raises important questions of conflict of interest which we wanted to discuss with Mayor Ryan, but he declined to be interviewed.
We would have put to him that the hospital is one of Alice Springs’ biggest employers. It uses council services. It deals with a massively disproportionate level of disease and trauma.
If the council sees itself as a lobby and a watchdog over the government, along the lines of the old adage that who pays the piper calls the tune, what effect would his non-council jobs have on his performance on behalf the town, we would have liked to ask Mayor Ryan.
In an email on June 20 we asked him about his remuneration as chairman of the CAHNGC – the organisation that was listed on the town council website as one of his many interests.
He emailed back that we could find information on the NT Government website about the pay for chairing the CAHS. But contrary to what Mayor Ryan told us last week, that information was not on the net – in fact it still is not this morning.
An officer of the Chief Minister Department told us today – words to the effect: “We hope to have it on the net by the end of today, or by the end of the week.”
Last week we asked the media officer of the Alice Springs Hospital about Mayor Ryan’s remuneration. When we did not hear back from her we contacted her again and she said she had thought we had found the information on the website. We said we hadn’t, and she said she would do what she could.
When again we did not hear from her we rang her yesterday and she said the information would not be released.
When we published these facts, a reader emailed us the link to the NT Government document setting out the various pays for statutory officers. It included the CAHNGC details, but not the ones for the new CAHS.
We resumed this morning our requests for disclosure of the new pay Mayor Ryan will get – no luck so far.
“Sorry I’ve been stuck in meetings this morning. I’m getting advice on how soon the website can be updated, hopefully it won’t take too long,” advised Ms Lambley’s minder a short while ago.
The figure is known, it is public information, why should the readers wait until it is on the net? Process.
UPDATE 7:00pm July 2:
The government has just confirmed that Mayor Ryan’s remuneration for his new job with the Department of Health, chairing CAHS, will be the same as his old one, namely $82,363 per annum.
SEE ALSO UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE REPORT.