Australia appoints first woman to head air safety regulator

April 26, 2021
New CASA boss Pip Spence. Image: WEN

A changing of the guard at Australia’s aviation safety regulator has seen the national government appoint a departmental deputy secretary as the agency’s first female chief executive.

Pip Spence is due to start as chief executive and director of aviation safety in the next few weeks after working as deputy secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

The appointment to what has often been a controversial role is for up to five years.

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She will be joined in August by Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, who will head the regulator’s board for a three-year term.

Transport Minister Michael McCormack said in a statement that the appointments would bring vast experience to the critical air safety roles.

McCormack said Spence offered substantial experience in aviation policy and regulation as well as government administration and public policy.

This included a strong record of leading organizational change.

“These appointments are a critical part of shaping the makeup of the CASA Board and the culture of the organization more broadly,” McCormack said.

“The depth and breadth of experience that Ms Spence and Air Chief Marshal Binskin bring to bear show the Government is serious about ensuring CASA performs its critical role effectively.

“Their combined skills and experience will be essential for leading this critical regulator in keeping Australians safe while flying, as well as supporting an efficient, effective and reliable aviation industry – which is economically crucial for communities right across the nation.”

Air Chief Marshal Binskin brought outstanding leadership and expertise in both aviation and defense to the board, including significant experience within general aviation, the Minister added.

According to a biography on the Women in Economics Network mentoring site, Ms Spence’s career includes a number of senior leadership roles in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

She was closely involved in the establishment of the National Broadband Network in the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and was awarded a Public Service Medal for her contribution to the telecommunications regulations reform associated with the implementation of the NBN.

She started her government career in the Transport Department, where she worked in a number of aviation-related areas, including as adviser to the then Minister.

She has a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Tasmania and a Graduate Diploma in Economics from the Australian National University.