Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called ‘time out’ on Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate following revelations that she spent thousands of dollars on expensive watches for the organisation’s executives.
Holgate apparently gave members of the top management team Cartier watches with a total value of around $12,000 as a reward for their hard work.
Now the PM has told her to stand aside and last night a statement from Australia Post Chairman, Lucio Di Bartolomeo, said the organisation would “fully cooperate with the recently announced investigation” and named Rodney Boys, Chief Financial Officer, as the acting Group CEO & Managing Director while the probe takes place.
‘It is disgraceful,’ says PM
Morrison expressed his dismay during Parliamentary Question Time yesterday at what he believed was an abuse of taxpayers’ money.
“I was appalled … it is disgraceful and not on,” he said.
“So immediately I spoke with ministers and, from those discussions, decided that there had to be an independent investigation done by the Department, not by Australia Post, and that the Chief Executive should stand aside immediately.
CEO can ‘stand aside’ or ‘go’
“That report will come back to me and … members of my Cabinet and if there are issues to be addressed with board members, then they will be addressed then.
“This all happened within an hour; so appalled and shocked was I by that behaviour, as any shareholder would in a company … if they had seen that conduct by a chief executive, the management or the board, they would insist rightly on the same thing.
“We are the shareholders of Australia Post on behalf of the Australian people … the Chief Executive … has been instructed to stand aside [and] if she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go,” Morrison said.
Ministers confirm investigation
Subsequently, the Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann, and Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher, confirmed in a statement that an investigation would be forthcoming and that Holgate would stand aside until it was complete.
“We have instructed the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, together with the Department of Finance, to conduct a formal investigation into the matter,” the statement read.
“The investigation by the shareholder departments will be supported by an external law firm. We expect this investigation to commence immediately and to be completed within four weeks.”