Australia Post chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo has defended his handling of the Christine Holgate matter and says there is no reason for him to resign.
Ms Holgate claims on that November 22 last year she was unlawfully stood down as CEO by Mr Di Bartolomeo and humiliated by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in parliament after it was revealed she’d gifted $5000 luxury watches to four senior executives.
She also suggested to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that she was the subject of a gendered attack, including being depicted as a “prostitute” in a cartoon published in the media.
Ms Holgate said the events left her feeling suicidal and that she forced to medicate with Temazepam.
She also told the inquiry Mr Di Bartolomeo had lied and misled the Senate.
“The simple truth is that I was bullied out of the job. I was humiliated and driven to despair. I was thrown under he bus by the chairman of Australia Post to curry favour with his political masters.
I was hung in parliament, humiliated. Not just hung, run over by a bus and reversed again.Christine Holgate
“I was hung in parliament, humiliated. Not just hung, run over by a bus and reversed again.”
She said Mr Di should resign or be sacked.
“You cannot have a chair who misleads the executive, who misleads ministers, who misleads the board, we must have a chair that both ministers, the executives and the people of Australia can trust.”
Time to move on, says chair
Mr Di Bartolemeo said he would not stand aside and it was time to move on.
“Australia Post has been taken through a very difficult patch and my view is .. I will not be resigning, I certainly don’t believe that would help, I think it will further hinder the organisation,” he said.
He acknowledged Ms Holgate had been treated “abysmally” during the affair but he believed the board and management did the right thing by her and she wasn’t owed an apology.
He denied he had hounded her out of her job, saying she had offered to resign and the board had accepted her resignation as the best option in the circumstances.
He also denied he had been instructed by the PM or communications minister Paul Fletcher to stand Ms Holgate down.
No privatisation plans
Mr Di Bartolomeo said Australia Post did not have any privatisation plans despite a BCG report, tabled on Tuesday but not yet made public, being described by Labor Senator Kim Carr as “a blueprint for privatisation”.
Senator Carr said if implemented the report would have seen as many as 8,000 job cuts, closure of 90 suburban post offices and “massive reductions” in service delivery standards.
Ms Holgate, who was opposed to the recommendations, said she was “silenced” over the report and that the implications of the report were “worse than what you think”.
“I think it was fair to say I wasn’t polular,” she said.
On Monday, just 24 hours before his appearance before the committee, Mr Di Bartolomeo announced Woolworths executive Paul Graham would replace Ms Holgate as CEO, which the committee heard was “not a good look”.
Mr Di Bartolomeo denied Ms Holgate was replaced because of her objection to the BCG report and denied any privatisation plans on the part of Australia Post.
“Categorically, never discussed in any fashion,” he said.
Ms Holgate said she stood by her decision to reward the executives for their role in securing the Bank@Post deal.
But she admitted that if she had her time over she probably would have bought Seiko watches instead.
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