Aust Post CEO stands aside over Cartier watch purchases

Australia Post chief executive officer Christine Holgate has been stood aside after the federal government launched an investigation into the purchase of $12,000 in luxury Cartier watches for four senior Australia Post employees.

Holgate disclosed the purchases during a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra on Thursday but defended the action saying the watches were not paid for by taxpayer funds, as Australia Post is a commercial organisation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher have expressed their shock and launched an investigation. It will extend to the Australia Post board and their governance, as well as the actions of management and senior executives.

During Question Time on Thursday, Fletcher confirmed Holgate will be stood aside for the period of the investigation.

“The board and management of government business enterprises need to take great care with taxpayer’s money,” Fletcher said during Question Time on Thursday.

“I have asked the Chair of Australia Post to provide the full support of the company for this investigation and I’ve also asked the Chair to inform the Chief Executive that she will be asked to stand aside during the course of this investigation.

“This is a matter which the government takes very seriously.

“We expect the board and management of government business enterprises to deal with taxpayer’s money with scrupulous care and that is what this investigation will be focused on.”

The printing industry’s relationship with Australia Post has long been fraught with concerns about slow delivery times and rising costs putting huge pressure on print and its viability as a medium for advertising.

During the recent Print2Parliament livestreamed event, Fletcher confirmed the postal service is focused on package delivery but would be very receptive to ideas from the printing sector about what it could do to increase print volumes.

He said this in turn would drive up daily letter volumes, which would push down prices.

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