Embattled Australia Post boss STILL hasn’t been suspended over Cartier watch scandal – and now she might refuse to step aside
- Australia Post boss has not received any formal notice regarding her suspension
- Pressure has mounted on Christine Holgate after the Cartier watch scandal
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced she would be stood down last week
- But Ms Holgate’s lawyers say no changes have been made to her employment
It’s been one week since the Australia Post watch scandal caused outrage across the nation but CEO Christine Holgate is still in the top job.
The embattled CEO admitted spending $12,000 on four Cartier watches as a reward for four executives, but it was later revealed the true figure was closer to $20,000.
Questions have also loomed over alleged misuse of corporate credit cards.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison threatened to sack the government-owned enterprise leader in the wake of the explosive Senate hearing and announced she would be ‘stood down’ ahead of a four-week review.
But it now appears her suspension has been lost in the mail.
Christine Holgate’s lawyers (pictured) claim there is no legal reason for her to be stood down from her role as Australia Post CEO
Her lawyers say she has not received any formal request to stand down and that no changes have been made to the terms of her employment.
Kingston Reid partner Bryan Belling told the Australian Financial Review that Ms Holgate would co-operate with the upcoming investigation but disputed the legalities surrounding her proposed suspension.
‘Ms Holgate has not had any proper notification that she has been stood down from her role, nor has she been informed as to why she should be stood down, nor has she had any communication regarding the investigation into Australia Post from either the board or the government,’ Mr Belling said.
‘Legally, in my opinion, there are no grounds for Ms Holgate to be stood down, and ‘optics’ is not a legally valid defence.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison lashed out at Ms Holgate in parliament last Thursday, calling the gifts disgraceful and appalling.
‘She’s been instructed to stand aside and if she doesn’t do that, she can go,’ Mr Morrison said.
Friends have since revealed the businesswoman has been ‘crying for days’ over the scandal.
Ms Holgate admitted spending $12,000 on four Cartier watches for four executives, but it was later revealed the true figure was closer to $20,000
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) said the gifts were as unacceptable and ordered Ms Holgate to step down
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister declined to comment, while an Australia Post spokesperson said they were providing support to Ms Holgate.
‘Australia Post has been communicating frequently with Ms Holgate regarding the current situation and ensuring appropriate support has been provided,’ the spokesperson said.
‘The chair stands by his previously made statement on Thursday 22 October that Ms Holgate will stand aside and this was agreed to by both parties in a telephone conversation.’
Ms Holgate’s actions have been defended by Blackmores healthcare millionaire Marcus Blackmore, who believes the besieged boss should be issued an apology.
‘You wouldn’t do this (treatment) to your dog … she might have been out of line but don’t crucify her, for God’s sake,’ he told The Australian.
Christine Holgate and Marcus Blackmore (pictured right) worked together for Blackmores for just under a decade
‘I saw what it did to her, she was crying for days, she was devastated. It was awful.’
Ms Holgate worked for Blackmores as its chief executive before moving on in 2017.
During her near decade-long tenure with the business, company share prices rose significantly as the company capitalised on a consumer boom in China.
Mr Blackmore also said there had been a significant ‘leadership gap’ at the company following Ms Holgate’s departure.
‘Quite honestly I think the whole thing was bloody disgusting, the way she was treated,’ he said.
‘It was four watches, for God’s sake. Women like Cartier watches. She likes watches, she wanted to give people something memorable.’
He went onto state that ‘some women are showy’ and ‘most people can’t afford it, so that’s why it (watch) is a meaningful gift.’
Mr Blackmore believes his former protege is unlikely to keep her job at the helm of Australia Post after damning comments from Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the scandal.
‘I am not so concerned about her job, I am more concerned about her reputation,’ he said.
But the watch fiasco is not the only line of questioning Ms Holgate is facing after it was revealed Australia Post forked out $34,000 for her to stay at the five-star Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Ms Holgate visited the city between October 2017 and July 2018 to go to the company’s head office in Melbourne.
Australia Post forked out $34,000 for Ms Holgate to stay at the five-star Grand Hyatt Hotel (pictured) for nine months
Ms Holgate, who has a harbourside property in Sydney’s Mosman and a $5million holiday home in Pearl Beach on the NSW’s Central Coast, reportedly had a ‘best room rate’ at the hotel, The Australian reported.
It is understood she was often upgraded to an executive suite when she stayed at the Grand Hyatt because she was a regular guest.
Prices at the Grand Hyatt start at $289 a night for a standard room but can cost up to $2,149 a night in the diplomatic suite.
Australia Post had been granted permission by the Remuneration Tribunal to spend a maximum of $34,500 for Ms Holgate’s accommodation for up to six months.
Ms Holgate replaced Ahmed Fahour as Australia Post chief executive in October 2017. His final take-home pay in 2017 was a staggering $10.8million.
Upon her appointment, Ms Holgate had said she planned to buy a home in East Melbourne.
Christine Holgate poses for a photograph in Sydney in June 2017 after being named Australia Post CEO
She later told the Financial Review’s Boss magazine in October 2018 she chose to stay at the hotel as it was ‘like home’.
‘I’m not allowed to tell you the rate but the Grand Hyatt have given me a great rate and actually I could not rent a one-bedroom apartment around here (Melbourne CBD) for that,’ she told the publication.
‘At first I thought I would hate it and everyone said ”Don’t do it!”. But it’s fantastic. I got home at 9.30 last night and I wanted something to eat, and they made me a cheese toastie,’ she said.
‘I want my laundry done, I call them in the morning and say could you do my laundry today?’