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Christine Holgate takes $1 million payout from Aus Post but no apology

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“I don’t think it’s an excessive sum by any stretch of the imagination,” Mr Blackmore said. “But who has paid for all this? Us bloody mug citizens.”

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, who came under scrutiny for his role in urging Australia Post to stand Ms Holgate down for an inquiry into the watches, said the dispute was a “matter between Australia Post and Ms Holgate”.

“The government is pleased to hear it has been resolved and wishes Ms Holgate well for the future,” he said.

Labor communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said the settlement was an admission by the board it had failed to withstand pressure from the Morrison government.

“No public official in the future should be subject to the unsubstantiated taunts of a sitting Prime Minister on the floor of Parliament, as Ms Holgate was,” Ms Rowland said.

Ms Holgate is now chief executive of rival multibillion-dollar parcel business Global Express, while Woolworths Group executive Paul Graham will take the reins of the Australia Post in September.

Ms Holgate’s resignation came 10 days after she disclosed to a Senate estimates hearing on 22 October that she had spent $20,000 on Cartier watches as bonuses for four senior employees for landing a major banking deal in 2018. The revelations sparked a now-infamous reaction from Prime Minister Scott Morrison who, on the floor of the parliament, declared she could “go” from postal service if she refused to stand aside for an inquiry into the gifts.

Breaking her silence at a Senate inquiry into the saga months later, Ms Holgate wore suffragette white and framed her treatment through a gendered lens, accusing Mr Morrison of humiliating her and setting in train an ordeal that left her contemplating suicide. The inquiry coincided with intense scrutiny of the Morrison government’s treatment of women.

“I lost a job – a job I loved – because I was humiliated by our Prime Minister for committing no offence and then bullied by my chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo, who unlawfully stood me down under public direction of the Prime Minister,” Ms Holgate told the Senate inquiry earlier this year.

Throughout the saga, Mr Di Bartolomeo maintained that Ms Holgate agreed to stand aside for an investigation into the watches and resigned of her own accord before it was completed.

At the inquiry, Mr Di Bartolomeo said Ms Holgate had been treated “abysmally” as she was embroiled in a media and political firestorm over the watches but insisted the board had “done the right thing by her” and provided her with extensive support. Each member of the Australia Post board-backed Mr Di Bartolomeo’s account at the inquiry, agreeing with his view that the company did not owe Ms Holgate an apology.

The Cartier watches saga was preceded by a string of revelations last year that plagued Ms Holgate’s leadership. These included her office spending $300,000 on the CEO credit card in 2019-20 and splurging $3000 a day on a reputation manager at the height of the pandemic amid complaints about delivery delays.

Ms Holgate also urged the board to pay out more than $7 million in bonuses to executives last year and came under fire for Australia Post’s intervention on behalf of Senator Pauline Hanson when the City of Melbourne refused to deliver One Nation stubby holders to public housing tower residents.

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