Ryan earning more from govt. jobs than for being Mayor


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It appears that the CAHNGC position has now been replaced by the Central Australia Health Service (CAHS).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.


  1. Managing the Central Australia Health Service board for the Tennant Creek and Alice Springs hospitals and other health care services is a big job and merits a full time position with 100% commitment by the office holder.
    I would guess that the salary would reflect that and be in the vicinity of $130K with substantial allowances.
    A mayor reporting directly to a government minister who pays him is also of concern.
    Clearly the mayor has a decision to make regarding which of his two full time positions he wants to continue with.

  2. I’m on the record and Damien and Rex Mooney are well aware of my stated opinion … the “official” role of mayors across a range of councils is obsolete in this day and age.
    The mayor should be the go-to person facilitating all issues pertinent to the interests of the community and an appropriate salary should reflect that.
    Damien has just jumped the gun a bit. Full credit to him for taking on the extra responsibilities. The most progressive mayor in the country resides in Geelong and he gets involved in every issue from unemployment to tourism. That’s what we need in Alice Springs. Just need to get it formalised.

  3. Paul. If the extra responsibilities do not conflict with the required time commitments to the position of mayor and the interests of Alice Springs rate payers then there is no problem.
    On the face of it, the additional responsibilities are huge, health in our region is complex and challenging so it seems likely that this new job will eat into commitment to the position of mayor.
    The lack of transparency around the salary quantum suggests it is a large figure, as it should be. This is also a problem.
    The interests of local ratepayers and the CLP government are not always the same so for a mayor to receive a large wage from the NT government creates a potential conflict of interest situation.
    The council is already politically divided and the mayor must stand above political interest and be seen to do so.

  4. Both roles would be very time consuming. This is a clear conflict of interest. No wonder this was kept quiet.
    The Mayor is supposed to be a vocal advocate for Alice Springs. It makes it very difficult for the Mayor to attack government policy on behalf of Alice Springs when the same government is paying him $100K a year for a part time job.
    I think Damien Ryan has been a great advocate for Alice. If there is an event on, he is always there. But surely this situation restricts his ability to act in the best interests of his constituents.

  5. Well let’s get Mr Brown or Mr Melky in the job, hey? If Mr Ryan (Damien that is!) makes good money, good on him, he earns it.
    Keep it up Damien.


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