/ 14 April 2021

Holgate fights back

Australia Post’s former boss Christine Holgate unloaded yesterday as she fronted a Senate inquiry into her departure from the government enterprise last year. She accused the board’s chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo of lying and said she was “suicidal” after PM Scott Morrison took aim at her in parliament over the $20,000 purchase of Cartier watches for 4 staff members for delivering on a work project in 2018. “I was humiliated by our prime minister for committing no offence and then bullied by my chairman,” she said during the explosive appearance.

And Holgate asked Senators to do precisely that yesterday. In October last year, she fronted the same committee and was asked about the watches’ purchase. And in those moments, her career fell apart. Her statement that she didn’t use “taxpayers money” because she believed Australia Post was a “commercial enterprise” led Morrison to call the decision to award the fancy timepieces “disgraceful” and for her to stand aside. Labor joined in the calls for Holgate’s head, and under the extreme pressure, she says she was forced out. Yesterday, she said the experience made her “seriously ill”. And she says Di Bartolomeo lied about what happened behind the scenes and “fabricated the agreement by myself to stand down”. For his part, he says she was “treated abysmally” but rejects any suggestion that he lied. Australia Post never wanted to lose her, he said, but yesterday she said she was targeted because she was a woman.

Well, Di Bartolomeo said Australia Post doesn’t need to apologise to Holgate. In an interview with ABC TV’s 7.30 last night, Holgate said that’s what she wants. She also wants Di Bartolomeo to resign and says her departure and some sort of financial (and possibly legal) settlement is still up for discussion because the way she was forced out was “unlawful”. The Senate committee is due to report at the end of the month.

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