Letter To The Editor

Response to The Australian

22 Jul 2015

Dear Mr Mathieson,

We note your correction and apology to Sir Angus published in the Weekend Australian on 18 July 2015 in response to our correspondence of 17 July. It is disappointing that following the apology, your revised online article still misrepresents Airservices position on a number of points and has introduced new inaccuracies.

We therefore remain concerned that your journalist continues to misrepresent what we say.

Your online article “Fire crews can provide air traffic information: CASA” continues to make damaging imputations and to present information in a misleading manner. For example:

    1. In the online version of your article, Sir Angus’ statement to The Australian is still truncated and presented in a context where the selective use of the statement implies a different meaning.
    2. The new text continues to be misleading and selective in the statements made, such that it results in an ordinary reader taking a different meaning from what Sir Angus actually said.

Statements in your letter of 16 July 2015 that “The ‘comprehensive’ suite of weather information – including “automated weather services available during flight as well as services provided by air traffic controllers over the radio” – cited by Airservices is clearly not available to pilots in uncontrolled airspace at airports such as Ballina and Gladstone” is simply wrong. Your online modified article continues to emphasise this inaccurate assertion by stating “But the whole suite of weather information would not be available to pilots of aircraft in uncontrolled airspace, such as Ballina airport.”

These false statements in relation to air traffic services have been published despite The Australian being provided with facts to the contrary. Here, I refer you to the facts provided in our letter to you dated 13 July 2015. Similar advice about air traffic services being available at all locations and in all airspace was provided to your journalist on 12 July 2015.

By continuing with this conduct, despite having been advised of the misleading nature of your reports, we can only assume that such misrepresentations are intentional as part of your journalist’s self-described ‘sustained campaign’ against aviation agencies. In that regard, I repeat the concerns I have previously communicated in relation to such conduct. Again, I request The Australian immediately cease engaging in such conduct.

It is concerning that The Australian would publish information it has been advised by reliable sources is factually incorrect. This appears to be in contravention of the News Limited Code of Conduct and the Journalists Code of Ethics and is certainly not what the public would expect of The Australian.

With regard to your offer to publish an edited version of one of our letters we remain concerned that this will not address all of the inaccuracies that have been published and adequately provide a balanced and fair view for your readers. We have now written to you eight times in relation to 12 articles that contain inaccurate and misleading claims about Airservices. Given the selective misuse of our statements and misrepresentation of facts, we do not consider that a single letter, edited by The Australian prior to publication, as an appropriate avenue for correcting the record.

Accordingly, we request The Australian issue clarifications and corrections at your earliest opportunity. Furthermore, we again ask that The Australian refrain from making inaccurate and misleading claims and that future articles are a fair and balanced reporting of the facts.

Yours sincerely

 

Margaret Staib
Chief Executive Officer
22  July 2015